* * * ½
(Based on weather
underground of ’70s)
Those of us who remember the anti-war movement of the Vietnam War era will have some vivid memories revived in this star-studded, slowly paced tale, directed by and starring Robert Redford. It will also serve as a history lesson for the under-40-audience.
The long two-hour movie begins with the arrest of Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon), a mother/wife who has lived with guilt over a bank robbery she participated in 30 years ago. She is on her way to Albany to turn herself in, when the FBI arrests her, leading to a chain of events that will alter many lives.
Redford plays Jim Grant, a lawyer and former member of the same Weatherman group who has changed his identity and is living peacefully with his 11-year-old daughter after his wife was killed in a car crash. Grant was believed to be part of the group that robbed the bank in which a guard was killed. With the attention turning toward him, he leaves his confused daughter with his brother (Chris Cooper) and takes off, looking for the people who can clear his name.
A young Albany reporter (Shia LeBeouf) grabs hold of the story and relentlessly seeks the truth. The key to Grant’s innocence lies in his former lover (Julie Christie). Finding her takes the fugitive across the country as he is being pursued doggedly by the FBI and the young reporter.
Along the way, we meet a number of his former colleagues, most of who have taken new identities and are living quiet lives. The last person they want to see is Jim Grant, or as he was known to them, Nick Sloan.
In the end, the truth finally comes out and many lives are affected. It is a long journey, lacking intensity as the plot occasionally plods along.
The company that Redford keeps is a star-filled group of over a dozen recognizable actors, including Rhode Island’s own Richard Jenkins as a college professor who was part of the group. Redford’s young daughter is uncredited, and we spent the movie trying to figure out who she was. We won’t tell you, but you can see her in person with the Rhode Island Philharmonic in Providence in the near future. Our friend Susan figured out the unlikelihood of Redford having an 11-year-old daughter, but we’ll let that pass.
Rated R, with some profanity. We would have easily given it a PG-13 and would encourage junior high and high school students to see it and learn about an important era in U.S. history.