First Hit: I liked it because it effectively reminded me of the subject events, how they happened, and how it affected me.
The Weather Underground made a splash in 1969 when they grew out of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and announced they would fight violence with violence.
The SDS focused on trying to stop the Vietnam War through non-violent means. The Weatherman decided that maybe our government would only hear the mood of a majority of its citizens, which was “to stop the war” and to “stop the killing” if they brought violence to make their point. In other words will the government only hear the will of the people if they act as the government acts, violently.
Many younger people may not understand or “get” what it was like when government troops attacked (not just tear gas, they shot and killed) students on campuses in our country.
Being in Vietnam at that time I realized, first hand, the reason for their protest. We were in a foreign country killing people we “thought” we should kill because our government said we should kill them. The reality is that we were bullying our beliefs in another country. Sound familiar?
Our government can and will create stories to make their decisions right. That is what this film is about. It is about Jim Grant/Nick Sloan (Robert Redford) hiding and running away because the government “believes” it is right about thinking that Sloan and another Weathermen Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) killed a bank security guard in a bank robbery back in 1970’s.
The beginning of this film Solarz turns herself in after 30 years. This causes a small town reporter Ben (Shia LaBeouf) to dig out the truth. Grant is quickly identified as Sloan so he goes on the run again. While on the run he connects with his fellow Weathermen. These were the most interesting parts of the film.
Sloan knows who killed the security guard, wants them to turn themselves in so he can raise his daughter. He won’t turn them in because that is the code of the weathermen. Mimi Lurie (Julie Christie) was this person and through the underground network they meet to discuss the dilemma. At their meeting they also talk about the girl they parented back then which plays on their decisions then and now.
Redford seemed a little old for the role especially when he is shown in the film with a 10 year old daughter. However, I could sense his belief in the subject and he brought that belief and intensity to the role. Sarandon also seemed to embody her role with belief, sadness, and truth. Christie was wonderful and embodied the role of a strong rebellious woman. LaBeouf was good as the reporter and vehicle to move the story along and he mixed well with the older actors. Richard Jenkins as Jed Lewis was really good as the radical who found a way to present his material to younger people. Lem Dobbs wrote a strong (at moments) screen play. There are lines sharing the philosophy of the Weathermen and those times that were great. Redford directed this with an understanding of the times and it worked.
Overall: This was a good/not great film and it touched some of the difficult thoughts I have about our country that haven’t died.