Alpha Dog

Rated 3.0

This disturbing picture of American youth is based on a true story, one that director Nick Cassavetes was given access to police files to create. The character of Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) is based on the real-life Jesse James Hollywood, arrested in 2005 and one of the youngest people to make the FBI’s most-wanted list. In Alpha Dog, Truelove is a drug dealer who, with his entourage, wastes the days away with booze, pot and women. When meth-addicted Jake Mazursky (played chillingly by Ben Foster) can’t come up with the $1,200 he owes Truelove, the dealer and his buddies kidnap Jake’s half-brother Zack (Anton Yelchin). The 15-year-old doesn’t mind hanging out with the tatted-up Frankie (Justin Timberlake) and friends while Truelove figures out a plan of action and weighs the consequences. All the young guys in this film are excellent—yes, Timberlake included—and performances by Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone are also quite good. The stylistic aspects of the film—mostly split screens—are few and far between, but the inclusion of dates and places and witness numbers for everyone the kidnappers and kidnappee come in contact with is pretty cool. The film’s harsh depiction of an ugly reality means it won’t be easily forgotten