At a glance, Stone looks like a fairly straightforward Hollywood movie. You’ve got Robert De Niro in crabby, scowling mode as a parole officer on the verge of retirement; Edward Norton as a cornrowed convict desperate to get back on the street after doing eight years for accessory to murder; and Milla Jovovich as the prisoner’s hotcha wife, who’ll do absolutely anything for her man. We all know where this scenario is most likely headed.
Well, no, we don’t. Not that there’s some big twist or anything—you just wouldn’t expect this kind of high-concept, star-driven American film to be so relentlessly interior. Stone means to do nothing less than paint a portrait of a man who turns out to be quietly, literally irredeemable. This ambitious effort doesn’t quite work—director John Curran (We Don’t Live Here Anymore) is a bit too enamored of clunky visual metaphors—but it’s unusually bracing all the same.