Don’t even begin to think you know where this little character-driven psycho-duel is heading; it’s just playing on your expectations. Nor should you take what the three main characters are saying at face value; you’re going to have to read between the lines. It’s hard to say who puts in the most convincing performance. Robert De Niro is a by-the-book, tamped-down parole officer who’s hiding a dark nature. He listens to a lot of Christian talk radio while sipping whiskey, and his wife (Frances Conroy—Six Feet Under) lives in fear of his passive aggression (a terrifying flashback explains why). Edward Norton is the title convict, looking very threatening in his cornrows and tats. He wants his freedom but perhaps savors more the emotional manipulation it’s going to take to win it. He’s frighteningly smart and has De Niro figured out. And while Milla Jovovich is not a personal favorite, she holds her own here as Stone’s sultry wife, whom he dangles in front of the unsuspecting officer to, well, just see what happens. It’s restrained and low-key and maintains a nice spookiness throughout. Good sound. There are flaws, but all in all an intriguing sit.
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