Mystic River

So I just watched Mystic River last night, and I gotta say it's one of the most over-rated movies I've ever seen. And I'm not saying that because of Sean Penn's excessive over-acting, which he managed to keep somewhat in check here (though I still contend that Bill Murray was robbed at the Oscars). No, the problem is that the story is, at heart, a mystery, and I figured out whodunnit ten minutes after the murder.

I don't often figure out mysteries before the last chapter of a book or the final scene of a movie (the other times I've done it were with The Sixth Sense, which I also felt was over-rated, and one of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes mysteries), but this was so frickin' obvious that I figured it out the second time the killer appeared on screen after the murder. It's just that the two main suspects were so obvious that there would've been no dramatic tension if they were guilty -- Eastwood might as well've shown the murder if either of them were involved. They didn't even work as red-herrings.

There was only one character who had a clear motive for wanting the girl dead. Once I realized that, I applied Ebert's Law of the Economy of Characters, which states that:

    Movie budgets make it impossible for any film to contain unnecessary characters. Therefore, all characters in a movie are necessary to the story—even those who do not seem to be. Sophisticated viewers can use this Law to deduce the identity of a person being kept secret by the movie's plot: This "mystery" person is always the only character in the movie who seems otherwise extraneous.
Sure enough, my suspect served no purpose to the plot -- for character development, yes, but not the plot. And an hour and a half later I was proved right.