That 70’s kid, Robert Redford, is back with a new political thriller that seeks to educate the youth of today on just what it was really like for the adults of his generation. The anti-war protests, the genocide, the government-sanctioned killings. Because, y’know, kids these days don’t know anything. Apparently. The problem with all of this is the youth of today has one sole voice in The Company You Keep. And it’s Shia LeBeouf, the bubblegum Transformers kid-cum wannabe Serious Actor of late. He’s the eager beaver reporter Ben Shepard who has to find a decent article to report back with right now or it’s death to his career at the local paper. LeBeouf brings a certain life to his scenes that are mostly filled with suffocating wrinkled stars that want to feed on him while he’s still alive. Then again, he is a journalist.
This is a political thriller concerning three fictional characters trying to clear their names as the law catches up with their radical past. They’re former member of the ‘Weather Underground,’ an anti-Vietnam War organisation of the 1970s that bombed, amongst other locations, the Pentagon in retaliation to the killings ordered by the US government. The story in the film concerns a fictional incident where two security guards were accidentally killed in a bank robbery during this time.
Redford’s Jim Grant adds nothing to the long overflowing list of middle-aged white American lawyers with a dodgy past. He has a daughter that is far too young for his age – something whittled away in a one-sentence explanation – and loves her so, so much. To say nothing of his previous nine directorial efforts, his latest feels as though he has dialled it in from a vacation in Hawaii with surfer girls. He spends the duration of the film distracted – not necessarily due to the character’s own experiences – and by the credits one doesn’t feel as though the film really amounted to anything besides an angry old man telling LeBeouf about the old days.
There’s a support cast that includes Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte but they’re only present for short periods of time and the woman he’s seeking out to help clear his name makes radical decisions that don’t support her own character traits. Why would a drug importer be willing to offer herself up for the person she hasn’t spoken to for decades?
Though I feel many will discredit LeBeouf’s involvement due to his inconsistent past, he’s the sole beacon of hope in an otherwise lazy political thriller that reeks of straight-to-video. The only thing The Company You Keep is missing from looking like every other film of its nature is the scene where Gimme Shelter has been removed. Otherwise it ticks every other box and leaves it at that.
Nicholas Brodie - follow Nick on Twitter here: @fodusempire