Posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
There have been a few possible Robert Redford projects spoken of in the past year, but now he’s set to direct The Company You Keep, a new political thriller written by Lem Dobbs (The Limey, Haywire). Shia LaBeouf will co-star opposite Redford, who hasn’t had a screen role since his own 2007 film Lions For Lambs.
Variety has the announcement, saying that “Redford will play a former Weather Underground militant wanted by the FBI for 30 years who must go on the run when a young, ambitious reporter exposes his true identity. LaBeouf will play the budding journalist who’s determined to make a name for himself.” The script is based on the novel of the same name by Neil Gordon. A synopsis of that source material is blockquoted below.
I can always get pulled into a good journalism-based thriller, but I actively hated Lions For Lambs, and Robert Redford’s last directorial effort, The Conspirator, was tepid and a bit dull. So expectations aren’t yet very high for this one. Lem Dobbs is definitely an appealing factor, but his work tends to be in the best shape when handled (manhandled, Mr. Dobbs might accuse) by Steven Soderbergh.
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The revolutionary politics of the 1960s haunt the complacent domesticity of the 1990s in this engrossing, if sometimes muddled, melodrama of ideas. When limousine-leftist lawyer and single dad Jim Grant is unmasked as Jason Sinai, an ex-Weather Underground militant wanted for a deadly bank robbery, he abandons his daughter and goes on the lam. As he evades a manhunt and seeks out old comrades, the author introduces a sprawling cast of drug dealers, bomb-planting radicals turned leftist academics, Vietnam vets, FBI agents and Republicans who collectively ponder the legacy of the ’60s. Gordon (Sacrifice of Isaac) skillfully combines a tense fugitive procedural, full of intriguing lore about false identities and techniques for losing a tail, with a nuanced exploration of boomer nostalgia and regret. Alas, there are a few too many long-winded, semicoherent debates about the radical excesses of the era that inadvertently evoke marijuana-fueled dormitory bull sessions. Through these exchanges (and a little sexual healing), ideological opposites come together over a facile anti-politics of “national reconciliation.” Gordon’s rueful radicals, having finally outgrown their adolescent outrage over parental hypocrisy, decide that personal loyalty and raising children trump all belief systems and that “none of the principles matter” any longer.