Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
tbc
Cast
Sean Penn
Tim Robbins
Kevin Bacon
Laura Linney
Marcia Gay Harden.
Directors
Clint Eastwood.
Screenwriters
Brian Helgeland.
Running Time
137 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Internet's Own Boy: The Story Of Aaron Swartz, The
4 Star Empire Rating
A Walk Among The Tombstones
4 Star Empire Rating
Wish I Was Here
3 Star Empire Rating
Grand Seduction, The
2 Star Empire Rating
Keeper Of Lost Causes, The
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Boyhood
5 Star Empire Rating

Mystic River
This taking-the-law-into-your-own-hands thriller marks a genuine return to form for Clint Eastwood's directorial career.


submit to reddit


Plot
Driven apart by a childhood trauma, three men meet again when Jimmy's daughter is murdered, cop Sean investigates and loner Dave emerges as a likely suspect. Soon an air of vigilantism begins to poison their Boston neighbourhood.


Review
Mystic River's apology for vigilante action is certainly disturbing, as any notion of guilt is quickly washed away in a rather unconvincing coda. But fans of the director will also breathe a sigh of relief that, after the disappointments of Blood Work, Space Cowboys and True Crime, this marks a genuine return to form.

Two things make Eastwood's task easier for him: a superb cast and a cracking source novel. Dennis Lehane's book is one of the very best thrillers of recent years, richer in Boston detail and closer in character study than anything Eastwood manages to bring to the screen.

That said, Brian Helgeland does redeem himself somewhat after his lacklustre adaptation of Michael Connelly's page-turner Blood Work. The screenwriter seems to understand the ageing director's desire to sacrifice plot pacing for loose, character-based meandering, and so places key points of information and discovery at appropriate intervals in order to keep even the most casual viewer hooked from the first frame.

He's faithful enough to Lehane's original material to also ensure that this story of a lingering human evil, capable of destroying lives in both past and present, retains a degree of moral complexity.

Eastwood takes a break from duties in front of the camera, leaving the stage free for Penn, Robbins and Bacon to strut their stuff. Penn delivers another multi-layered performance as a man in whom rage, grief and honour suffer a head-on collision, while Bacon sheds his psycho baggage as a cop caught in a compromising position.

Robbins, with the toughest role, is worst served by Helgeland's script, which cuts much-needed background from the book. We should find more sympathy for his character, as fate snaps its man-trap jaws around him, but even Robbins' best efforts can't quite fill in the gaps. Dave is supposed to be living proof of the way in which child molestation infects the victim and, by degrees, those closest to him; but by reducing his impact and this theme in the movie, a more routine and far less powerful whodunnit structure emerges in its place.

Nevertheless, the combined efforts of all three actors add psychological weight to the revenge-driven murder mystery. Despite secondary status, the women in the cast also strengthen the show, particularly Marcia Gay Harden's heartbreaking turn as a woman caught between love and disgust as she fears her husband's troubled past has mutated him into a killer.


Verdict
While not quite the equal of the novel, it's more complex, emotionally-charged and better acted than the average Hollywood thriller.


Reviewed by Alan Morrison

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Mystic River
Empire Star Rating

A powerful, mesmerizing and engaging masterpiece. To my mind, 'Mystic River' is probably Eastwood's finest work (or, at least, one of his top achievements) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 20:16, 17 July 2011 | Report This Post


Excellent movie

A very good movie, one I'd certainly recommend. I do feel that it could have had that little bit extra though. Still highly entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dahughesy at 17:49, 12 January 2011 | Report This Post


I enjoyed this film but i have to critisize the way it tries to lead the audience down one path that never seems to fit, despite throwing up peices of evidence that make it seem believable, then just throwing a stupid deus ex machina in at the end. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jascott at 14:09, 15 October 2009 | Report This Post


Well done Clint

A modern masterpiece, with a cast that acts to perfection ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cinefile at 10:26, 17 September 2009 | Report This Post


Well done Clint

A modern masterpiece, with a cast that acts to perfection ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cinefile at 10:26, 17 September 2009 | Report This Post


Technically, it’s hard to enjoy Mystic River, what with its disturbing undertones and very depressing subject matter, but it’s even harder to detest, what with Penn, Robbins and Bacon (to name a few) and the excellent execution of its accomplished director. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Romarth at 12:51, 29 March 2009 | Report This Post


Excellent ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ellfid1@hotmail.com at 11:44, 07 April 2008 | Report This Post


SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Rogues Gallery: Powers Boothe
Sin City's Roark talks us through his most memorable baddies

Richard Attenborough: In Celebration
Saluting a man who made a lasting impact on cinema and beyond…

Exclusive: Luc Besson Talks Lucy
'There is no bullshit with Scarlett Johansson'

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Talks What If...
On Gordon Ramsay, swearing and date movies

The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)