“Like father. Like son. Like hell.” They just don’t make taglines like that anymore… nor do they make crime flicks like At Close Range anymore. Sean Penn plays Brad Whitewood, Jr., a moody teenager who, after a fight with his mother’s boyfriend, approaches his dear old dad (Christopher Walken), the head of close-knit organized crime family, about possibly following in his old man’s footsteps. Soon, Brad and his brother, Terry (Sean’s real-life sibling, Chris Penn), have started their own gang (the members of which include Kiefer Sutherland and Crispin Glover), but after these mini-thugs get arrested after attempting a robbery, family ties mean little as Pop makes sure none of this nonsense gets traced back to him. Sean Penn struggles a bit with a difficult role, but Walken delivers one of his best-ever performances as the one of the worst (and most terrifying) fathers on the planet — all in all, At Close Range has aged remarkably well, managing to transcend most of the cheesy ’80s elements that plague so many other films from that era now in retrospect. Madonna, Sean Penn’s then-wife, contributes “Live to Tell” to the soundtrack.
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