"The Company You Keep": Robert Redford Brings Back Activism

Robert Redford's new thriller seems pleasingly to share some DNA with his old thrillers — the ones he starred in, like Three Days of the Condor, and All the President's Men, and for that matter even Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He's in his element calling shots both in front of and behind the camera in The Company You Keep, a movie about outlaws and aging lefty crusaders coming to terms with their legacies. Here Redford stars as a former Weather Undergrounder dodging the feds and tending to some urgent unfinished business with an old flame, now a pot-runner in Big Sur, played by Julie Christie. Hot on his trail is a tenacious journalist played by Shia LaBeouf in clever-guy glasses and an old-school-muckraker pose. The huge roster of strong supporting players includes Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Jenkins, Susan Sarandon, Sam Elliott, Stanley Tucci, Anna Kendrick, Stephen Root, Terrence Howard, Brit Marling, and even Nick Nolte. Lem Dobbs's script, adapted from Neil Gordon's novel, is intelligent and only just slightly speechifying. The subtext – "Listen, kids, there was a time in this country when activists acted and reporters reported!" — seems sufficiently restrained. And although the movie seems gradually to tire of chewing on all it has bitten off, one senses its maker's respect for principled people of any generation.

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