Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register now to see X-Men: First Class!
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
You & Me Forever
4 Star Empire Rating
An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker
4 Star Empire Rating
Cupcakes
3 Star Empire Rating
Looking For Light: Jane Bown
3 Star Empire Rating
Exhibition
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating
Calvary
5 Star Empire Rating
Wake In Fright
5 Star Empire Rating
Stranger By The Lake
5 Star Empire Rating
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
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



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Best Barry Norman Anecdotes From His Empire Podcast Interview
From nearly punching Robert De Niro to the real story about ‘And why not?’

Empire 300th Issue: The Directors' Cut Cover
Spielberg, Whedon, Fincher, Abrams Mann and more take over

Fired! Losing Your Job In The Movies
The lowdown on getting dismissed on film

20 Not So Super '-Men' That Won't Star In A Film Any Time Soon
Forget your Batmen, your Spider-Men and your Ant-Men… Meet 3-D Man (and his pals)

The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month 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)