The 1986 film At Close Range brought actors Christopher Walken and Sean Penn together as a supposed father and son. Face to face they brought their acting talents and here is what you can expect from the results.
At Close Range was directed by James Foley and is based on a true crime story about a young man trying to impress his father by helping in robberies, and then the brutal actions taken when he wants out of the lifestyle. Christopher Walken as the father and Sean Penn as the son are joined in cast by: Mary Stuart Masterson, Chris Penn, Cripsin Glover, and Kiefer Sutherland even stands around in the film in a few shots.
The first portions of the film tend to rely on the music a bit too much, with several slow scene of Penn’s character staring off into the air while soft piano music plays. Penn’s acting was not in need of so many attempts at emotional heightening. When the credits role the very first thing presented is the name of Madonna and her song for the film in big bold letters. Sean Penn was married to her at the time and quite frankly his talent in this case soared above hers. Christopher Walken matches Penn in skill, but then goes that extra creepy-cool step of intensity being the villain. Walken mumbles a good deal when he talks, but it doesn’t matter he lights up the screen every moment he is on it. Mary Stuart Masterson does a great job of being a bouncy, innocent yet strong and loving young girlfriend to Penn’s character. This movie also shows that Chris Penn used to be skinny; RIP.
Once we get past the musical interludes of low dialog there is a dark story to be viewed. The relationship between Penn and Walken’s character intensifies to a compelling degree, and Walken’s character truly arcs to a place of paranoia and darkness that is a profound to watch; especially when thinking on the true crimes the film is based on.
The ending goes into a court room and then freezes for a final musical note, which is not as satisfying as the confrontations and tragedy right beforehand. However, even though it was made in 1986 this film still stands up as a good example of acting talent, and gritty drama.