Based on a true story.
Brad (Sean Penn) is a young man who enjoys doing very little in life other than hanging out with friends, drinking and smoking. He has no interest in getting a job unless he needs to buy something such as a nice car, but otherwise, he is generally unmotivated. But for Brad, several significant events are about to occur in his life, including meeting a young woman named Terry (Mary Stuart Masterson), who he instantly falls head over heels for.
When Brad is kicked out of home after a disagreement with his mum’s current partner, he has no choice but to turn to his father, Brad Sr (Christopher Walken), for help. Brad has always been distant from his father and has heard many rumours about him, including how he makes a living by being a skilled criminal.
As Brad Sr reveals to his son a world of crime and money, Brad expresses to his father that he wants him to take him under his wing, teaching him everything he knows about the crime game. During the training process, Brad finds moments of happiness, and for the first time in ages, he’s able to connect with his father on a deeper level. But it’s not long until Brad makes an enormous discovery about his father and realises he has gotten into something far more profound than he could ever expect. He also begins to question if he can ever get out before it’s too late.
When it comes to the film’s plot, I was pretty impressed. It all moves along at a nice pace, and I understood the struggles that Brad Jr was going through, such as starting a new relationship, trying to connect with his father, and attempting to make the right call when crime goes too far. As a character, I found myself hoping he would eventually come good and stand up against his father (even though that task is not a simple one!). The film’s third act was dramatic and filled with shocking and unpredictable moments, all of which worked well.
Performances are top-notch from start to finish. Sean Penn gives a stunning performance as a young man who is lost in life and lacks any connection with his father. It’s evident the character wrestles with himself as to what he should be doing with his life and which path should he take. Christopher Walken as Brad Sr is brilliant. Nothing about his actions is ever predictable, and the actor portrays deeply uncomfortable moments, even just through the way he observes others. It’s obvious he is highly skilled and is someone who should never be messed with. The two leads are extremely convincing as father and son. Supporting actress Mary Stuart Masterson was also pleasing. Other supporting roles have moments but are generally forgotten about when compared to the powerful performances by the main leads.
Overall, I found this to be a solid film on so many levels. With brilliant and convincing performances from both Sean Penn and Christopher Walken, I was locked into this film from start to finish. The film’s story is also compelling. I found myself highly invested as we witness a young man dealing with the pressure of both getting into a life of crime and having to stand up to his dangerous, criminal father. Like the true story, the film is filled with unpredictable moments and an unforgettable third act. Why can’t more movies be made like this in the present day?
At Close Range (1986) is Now Available on Blu-ray!