Tuesday 18th January 2022

Alpha Dog (15)
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

If you know anything at all about Alpha Dog, it's probably that is stars Justin Timberlake. Although "stars" is a bit of a strong word, because Alpha Dog actually features quite an ensemble cast, including Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone and Emile Hirsch.

I hope I get to go skinny dipping with two hot girls next time I get kidnapped
I hope I get to go skinny dipping with two hot girls next time I get kidnapped

The film follows the story of Johnny Truelove (Hirsh), a young drug dealer with a number of people working for him. One of these is Jake Mazursky, who we find out at the start of the film owes Truelove around $1200. Unable to pay up, the two get embroiled in a bit of a rivalry, but the events that transpire between them are all founded on bravado and never amount to much more than a bit of vandalism and fisticuffs.

It's a spur of the moment decision then, when Truelove spots Mazursky's 15 year old brother out on the streets one day and basically decides to kidnap him. Again, it's not really a violent kidnapping, in fact they look after the kid well and take him to parties and so on.

This covers the first hour of the film, and in truth it is not scintillating stuff. The acting is pretty good, especially from Ben Foster (Jake Mazursky), but the overall impression is that it's padding. We don't learn much about the characters and very little happens that is funny or interesting. However, after this, things really heat up.

The film starts to lead you to believe that there is more to the story than meets the eye and the second hour is one long tense build up, in which the characters make you believe that nothing serious or bad is going to happen, but the tension and other indicators in the film lead you to believe otherwise.

By the time the unbearably tense climax occurs, I guarantee the film will have evoked a strong emotional reaction from you, and it was only near this point that it occurred to me that this film is almost certainly a true story (it is), adding extra weight to the events.

The film is undoubtedly full of flaws, including some poor sets and effects and some misjudged editing and pacing. However, I think it is worth seeing despite these things just to experience the emotional torment it will put you through by the time the film ends.

And for the Timberlake fans out there, I can confirm that JT does pretty well as an actor, and shows some real promise during the more difficult scenes at the end of the film.

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Length: 117 minutes
Certificate: 15
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 20th April 2007

Top Five Rating: 70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0% (70.0%)
User Rating: 80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0% (80.0%)

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