An escaped convict takes an 8 year old boy hostage and is pursued in the resulting manhunt by a motley assortment of lawmen, headed by pragmatic good ol’ boy Clint Eastwood.
The fact that the central characters of this film are a desperate criminal and an 8 year old Jehovah’s witness – not to mention Kevin Costner’s presence – would probably provoke a groan from more cynical cinephiles, expecting a saccharine drenched schmaltz-fest about “learning from one other” and “growing as a person”. They’d be right in some respects as that’s pretty much is what the film is all about, but thanks to Eastwood’s sensitive direction it manages to sidestep cloying sentimentality and the result is an endearing road movie-cum-western with a streak of gentle humour. The weak link is probably Kevin Costner and if it weren’t for the obvious age issues I think he and Eastwood would’ve been better served swapping roles, but he still gives a decent performance as the damaged career criminal who comes to share a common bond with his tiny captive.
Perhaps the message about the penal system gets a little lost in amongst all the good-natured banter, but it’s still an intelligent and sensitive offbeat thriller that’s well worth seeking out.