Even though, the man's acting career spans almost six decades, Robert Redford has only managed to garner only two Academy Awards, and none of those were for his performances. He won the Oscar for Best Directing in 1981 for "Ordinary People" and the second in 2002 was a consolation Award for sticking around long enough which clearly defines why the Lifetime Achievement Award stands for. The closest credit he ever got in terms of acting was a Best Actor nomination in 1973 for "The Sting". With this movie, "The Company You Keep", in which Redford both stars and directs here the chances of him receiving any Oscars are slim to none.
In many way to get a first impression on career goals, you have to start from the bottom. Here's where we meet Ben Shepherd (Shia LeBoeuf), a young journalist who works for a newspaper outlet in Albany, New York, The Albany Sun Times, where he'll go through great lengths to please his editor Ray Fuller (Stanley Tucci).
The story commences as we are introduced to Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) whom back in the late 1960's and early 1970's was a member of the infamous Weathermen Underground and has been under investigation since then as she made the FBI's Most Wanted list. Thirty five years later, she's under arrest which leaves our inquisitive-minded young reporter Ben wondering, how did they find after so many years?
An associate of hers calls Albany attorney, Jim Grant (Redford) to defend her in court, but he rebuffs the request saying that he's too busy and feels he's just simply not up to this kind of case.
When word caught onto Ben, he stops by Jim's place to ask questions about it. After all, any attorney would chomp at the opportunity for a case like this, so why does he refuse? Jim tells Ben that it's much harder for one to understand. Things have changed drastically since his wife died and now he has to keep eye on his young daughter, but Ben does not bite into his excuse one bit.
After going into further research into the Weathermen Underground, Ben discovers that it's just a rouse to get another member of the Weathermen Underground out of hiding so that they could be on the run until they're proved innocent. This puts Ben in an awkward disposition as he questions his moral ethics as a journalist as he's caught in the middle of whether to rat on a former Weathermen or not to keep this aging man in hiding.
The last time Redford both starred and directed a film at once was the 2007 film "Lions for Lambs" which he co-starred with Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise. It comes to no surprise that he really knows where to gather his talent pool. Here Redford pulls out an ensemble of very talented performers with the likes of Anna Kendrick, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliot, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper and Julie Christie. And even though they play their roles brilliantly, it's the script that is the main flaw that holds this film shy of greatness. Although the story looks into a moment in history that's rarely examined, it lacks in terms of anything that's impulsive. In kind of had that feeling Redford wanted in on this project. The movie is loosely based off of a novel by Neil Gordon of the same title. Not only that, but the film's backdrop is within the realm of political intrigue. Redford digs movies that has a strong political vibe to it.
Sadly this story loses its spark as we see an aging old man taking constant trips to the bathroom and for a two film it does drag on like that for way too long.
If there was any performance that stood out, it was from Shia LeBoeuf. Whether you like him or not, he really turned out a role that was more intelligent than his previous ones. Which shows that given a proper role, one that he could chomp at, he can show that he does have talent. The other performers also display good talent here, although Nick Nolte can use a little work here as his lines seem to slur a bit here and there.
Not to be putting down a person of their age, but I thing Redford should just either direct or act. There's no need to multi-task. And seeing that he's in the twilight of his life, I think he needs to slow it down a bit. Even though he may have a few moments of great dialogue, but overall his role was disappointing and lacked in charisma.
Considering that this film is strong in its political sentiments, the film lacks in terms of offering something of impact. I wanted to know more about this Weathermen Underground organization which was an illicit group that strongly opposed the Vietnam War and went to extreme liberal measures to get there message across even if it costed them their freedom or their reputation. We just never given much insight on this film as it depended on human drama and overlong scenes that had little to offer the story.