Movie review: Alpha Dog

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Judging by Denzel Washington's blatant explanatory screams in medical drama John Q. and James Garner's overarching pedestrian narrative in The Notebook, it's clear that director Nick Cassavetes doesn't think much of his audiences.

That annoying lack of trust also informs his latest, Alpha Dog, a sometimes thrilling film inspired by the true story of Jesse James Hollywood, the youngest man ever to be placed on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

The baby-faced Emile Hirsch plays Johnny Truelove, a local dealer who commands the respect of a likeable but amoral band of goons that includes a charismatic Justin Timberlake. Enveloped in pot smoke, very inventive profanity and lust, their pleasant world of debauchery soon begins to crumble when Truelove and local addict Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster) have it out over a delinquent payment.

After several retaliations, Truelove and his goons kidnap Mazursky's younger brother, who stays with the bunch partly to help his brother and partly because he gets to party with hot chicks.

Once he's reported missing, the film begins to borrow from the most basic TV crime dramas, but what will bother viewers most is the false documentary style that's woven into the storytelling.

Text overlays identifying witnesses, fake one-on-one interviews with victims and suspects and other tired devices attempt to spell out a narrative with few twists and even less suspense.

Grade: C+