Alpha Dog

Year: 2006
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes
Written By: Nick Cassavetes


This movie is based on the real life murder of Nicholas Markowitz in 2000 on the orders of drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood.  This was a real life story worthy of a movie but I am always skeptical about a movie “based on a true story.” There is no such thing as a movie that portrays actual events accurately however people always believe that they do.  Some movies that claimed to be based on actual events never happened at all, i.e. Fargo, The Strangers. Occasionally a movie does a better job, this is one of those.  I’m not saying this is an accurate representation of what really happened to Nicholas Markowitz, but from the little bit of research I have done I can see that Nick Cassavetes took the project seriously.  Films based on real life can try their best to be accurate but they always inevitably rewrite the story for their own purposes. For example, the victim having a three-way in the pool before his execution and the last-minute effort to call off the hit by Johnny Truelove.  Maybe these things actually happened, but it seems like it was added into the story on purpose, for effect.

This is not the greatest movie ever, but I enjoyed it.  There are several young promising actors who give very good performances in this film as well.  Anton Yelchin is on his way to a very successful career and he does hold up well as the centerpiece to this film.  I for one am in full favor of Justin Timberlake’s venture into films.  He is a very talented entertainer and I find his versatility impressive. One of the reasons I like this film is because of his performance.  This was one of his first films and I think he nailed it, it made me respect him more as an entertainer.  I am not a big fan of Ben Foster but he was awesome in this movie, real badass. Emile Hirsch probably deserves mention here but I am not a fan and I didn’t think his performance in this film was anything special. There are also the seasoned veterans who add their talent to the cast.  Bruce Willis can only make any movie better and Sharon Stone has a ferocity that doesn’t age.

This movie was made shortly after the events it portrays and that does tend to bother me under most circumstances.  I think that it’s ridiculous to make a movie before the entire story is told.  This movie for example, maybe there is a more interesting story in the life of Jesse James Hollywood during his life on the run in Brazil.  It’s not prudent to make this film so soon, nor was it to make a movie about Mark Zuckerberg when the guy is still in his 20s.  Is Hollywood so desperate for material that they will make a movie about part of a guy’s life? I like this movie, but I do think it screams of the lack of original ideas coming out of the movie industry these days. I wouldn’t set this film at the top of any “movies to watch” list but if you get the opportunity sit down and check it out, it’s worth your time.


This movie is made so beautifully. It completely captures the characters it sets out to. The movie is set up to make you feel sorry for certain characters in the film. You know what they are doing, but there are some in the film (Justin Timberlake) that were portrayed in a light that somehow made him “better” than the others. He hung out with kid and got to know him a little bit. Because this movie is based around a true story it sucks you in a little bit more. People love stories that are based on real life, take reality television for example. People love it. You can relate to real life. I remember the first time I watched it and the desire at the end to see it end differently. It has a surprise ending that may not be expected if you didn’t know the whole story going into.I didn’t know the story. I really like the acting, the story and the portrayal. A definite must see movie.

NEXT MOVIE: American Beauty (1999)

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