At Close Range (1986)
Directed by James Foley
Starring: Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson
Brad (Penn) is trying to make a life for himself and his girlfriend Terry (Masterson). While he tries to connect with his aloof father (Walken), Brad begins to fall in love with the idea of being an outlaw. As Brad and his friends join in on the crime spree, they find themselves sucked into a world more dangerous than they had ever imagined.
House of Cards director James Foley was a new director in 1986 when he took on At Close Range. The movie stars Sean Penn (21 Grams), Christopher Walken (Wedding Crashers), and Mary Stuart Masterson (Benny and Joon). The film is loosely based on the true story of Bruce Johnston Sr. who built a crime family in Pennsylvania during the sixties and seventies. In addition to the three stars of the film, the movie also features a number of other recognizable faces. These actors include David Strathairn (Lincoln), Chris Penn (Footloose), Kiefer Sutherland (24), and Crispin Glover (Back to the Future).
This early work from Sean Penn is a nice showcase of his talent. Christopher Walken pairs nicely with the young star for some electric moments throughout the film. Unfortunately, these two actors are the only major highlights in an otherwise underwhelming movie. Although the acting has good moments, the movie feels badly written. This is too bad since the movie is based on a very interesting story. Overall, the screenplay just doesn’t seem to take advantage of the bigger plot points.
The camera work and lighting in this movie are nicely done. Despite having a weak script, the movie has some cool visuals throughout. Sadly, this isn’t going to make up for the aforementioned flaws. If you’re a fan of Walken or Penn you might enjoy seeing this one. It might also appeal to fans of crime stories. Otherwise this is one you might want to pass on in favor of something a little more complete. I give this one 2.7 out of 5 stars.