The Pledge is a 2001 pedophile serial killer film.
2 out of 10 stars. Sean Penn directed this and cast his wife Robin Wright in it. Sadly as bad as that is, it’s not the worst thing I can say about this film. It’s poorly plotted, poorly written, and poorly acted. There’s no one to root for here. Even the kids are so stupid you can easily see how they are abducted.
Reno, Nevada in winter
Detective Jerry Black is retiring. On the day of his retirement, a dead 8 year old girl is found, Ginny Larsen. The case is given to a detective named Stan who is the dumbest cop in the office. Stan doesn’t want to inform the parents, so Black does it. And he makes a promise to Ginny’s mother that he’ll find the killer. He forgets that promise when Stan frames a mentally retarded Native American man for the murder and that man kills himself. Case solved.
Black spends two weeks searching for other cases similar to Ginny’s in nearby counties. He finds a case from three years ago of a girl who went missing. She looks just like Ginny. Then he finds a third case from eight years ago over in Monash County. She looked like Ginny too and was found killed the same way. Both girls were wearing red dresses.
When he speaks to Ginny’s best friend Becky Fiske, Becky says that Ginny had been meeting with “the Wizard” who would always bring her porcupines. Ginny drew a picture of the wizard, a tall man with black hair driving a black station wagon.
Black takes this evidence to his old boss who tells him it’s not enough, go retire. So Black moves to a mountain lake and buys a gas station there. He spends his days running the gas station and weekends fishing. Then one night Lori, the waitress at the diner where he eats, comes to his home with her 8 year old daughter Chrissy. Her ex has beaten her. He invites her to stay there so she’ll be safe. And Lori falls in love with Black because he is kind to her and her daughter.
Soon they begin a sexual relationship and Black puts up a swing set in front of the gas station near the road. That’s the dumbest thing any parent can ever do. She’s now on display. He also buys her a bicycle and she begins meeting with a man who gives her chocolate porcupines.
Meanwhile Black comes across a flea market woman who sells boot cleaners made in the shapes of porcupines. Her son is tall and wears a black cap. He drives a black station wagon. His name is Gary Jackson and, believe it or not, he’s not the killer. It’s simply a coincidence. But Jackson takes an interest in Chrissy because he’s a pastor.
When Chrissy finally tells Black her secret, that she’s meeting with the Wizard, he calls Stan and they have an entire SWAT team around the park where she rides her bicycle to meet the Wizard. But he never shows. Stan tells Lori that Black is using her daughter as bait and she dumps him. Then Black’s life slowly unravels.
What I found most disturbing about this film was that Stan sees the black station wagon of the killer in a multiple car pileup on the road leaving the park. So Black was right. The killer was cooked when his car blew up, so he’s dead. But Stan never tells Black and he destroys his life. Sadly most cops are like Stan and few are like Black.
2 out of 10 stars. Terrible screenplay. Horrible ending.