Robert De Niro and Edward Norton have one previous team-up under their belt, The Score, which wanted to be a thrillingly gripping caper but ended up being a crime because it criminally misused these two performers. So, like the hard-nosed wise guys they are, De Niro and Norton try it again — and, of course, it’s a crime uniting them in John Curran’s meditative exploration of two men seemingly on opposite sides of the law-and-order divide.
Jack (De Niro) is a parole officer, days away from retirement and living out his last days with his wife Madylyn (Frances Conroy) and the fire and brimstone of radio evangelism, who takes on the case of an arsonist (Norton) with his hair in cornrows, wiggy Hip Hop-inspired affectations and the willingness to seemingly do anything to get out of jail, even if it means convincing his wife (Milla Jovovich) to seduce Jack.
Curran (The Painted Veil, We Don’t Live Here Anymore) serves up what could have easily been familiar diner fare as if he’s angling to prove that he’s a chef in full command of his skills. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s got DeNiro, Norton and a secret ingredient in Jovovich that inject unexpected flavor into the mix. Jovovich has been the butt-kicking warrior in the Resident Evil franchise for so long that it’s a real treat to see her bring that sexy hard edge to more dramatic material.
Stone might not match American History X, but it leaves a rough mark on its spot. Grade: B+