Alpha Dog is a drama based off of the true crime involving the abduction of Nicholas Markowitz by drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood and his friends. The film was directed by Nick Cassavetes and has a cast of young stars including: Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Ben Foster and Shawn Hatosy. Bruce Willis also has a supporting role along with Sharon Stone.

Here is the scary part: Justin Timberlake’s acting is the best part of the film! He is back and forth from crappy to good, but when he is good he is right on and stealing the show.

Due to controversy involving the on-going trial of Jesse James Hollywood and the full access the director had to actual crime files the names of the people and locations within the film have been altered from those of the real life counterparts. The crimes took place in and around Santa Barbara, California and the subject matter is still a bit sensitive, however living in the area myself I think they should have kept things more factual for impact purposes countrywide.

The director does a poor job using split screen shots that were useless and distracting. The final 15 to 20 minutes of the film drag on and feel like they were trying to add length to the project after already having shown the most tragic and pivotal points involved with the tale. In reading interviews with the cast, the on-set attitude was portrayed as rather light-hearted. Considering the subject matter, having this insider information sort of makes the final sex scene thrown in at the end of the film to just be exploitive and pointless. On top of these ill attributes are the background effects during important scenes that once again steal from the drama and ruin the moment.

Most of the actors in the film are dead-pan, dull. Ben Foster on the other hand plays the kidnapped child’s older brother very over-the-top and manic. His screeching and yelling comes across as corny and ridiculous. Bruce Willis does fine in his role, however Sharon Stone was not a wise casting choice for the monologue her character partakes in late in the movie while wearing a fat suit. Justin Timberlake, as I mentioned at the start, was pretty good.

So with poor directing and lackluster acting on a whole, it feels like the story behind this movie was mishandled and is a disappointment. Alpha Dog is not a great film, tune in if you are curious about Justin Timberlake’s performance, but really it is skipable and it is more interesting to look up the true facts about the crime on-line for some reading. The subject matter will stick with you after a viewing, but not the actual movie itself; giving this film a fairly low score on any sort of rating scale