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Alpha Dog


Stars: Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone. Shaun Hatosy, Anton Yelchin, Ben Foster, Bruce Willis, Harry Dean Stanton, Alex Kingston, Alan Thicke

Director: Nick Cassavetes

All the characters seem to live on the far edge of hysteria in this rendition of a true story that resulted in two small-time drug dealers sitting on Death Row and some of their crew jailed for life. Owed money by psycho junkie Jake (Foster), Johnny (Hirsch) and his boys, led by Frankie (Timberlake) and Elvis (Hatosy), kidnap Zack (Yelchin), Jake's younger brother.

All hell breaks loose, and Johnny is soon regretting the hasty kidnap, and wondering what to do with the all-too-willing 'victim' Zack, who has run away from his mother (Stone) and delights in Johnny's world of drugs and girls.

Johnny's dad (Willis) attempts to track down his son and convince him to return the hostage. But things keep getting worse, and even the capable Frankie gets weak-kneed - 'You know how I get with all this anxiety shit,' he says.

You shouldn't be fooled by this account of the story: the film lacks form and momentum and is beset by inane captions about times and places, and the identities of the three dozen 'witnesses', who are really no more than bystanders as events escalate in fractured fashion to an inevitable tragic conclusion.

David Quinlan

USA 2005. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour by De Luxe.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 13 Apr 2007