The Pledge is a 2001 mystery film directed by Sean Penn. It is based on the 1958 novella Das Versprechen: Requiem auf den Kriminalroman (The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel), by Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
Dürrenmatt wrote the The Pledge to refine the theme he originally developed in the screenplay for the 1958 film Es geschah am hellichten Tag (It Happened in Broad Daylight).
Besides the extraordinary insight of Dürrenmatt's novel, the breath-taking performance of Jack Nicholson alone is enough to make this movie a must-see.
Jerry Black is a retired detective, who during his retirement party decides to join one of his colleagues in one last case. The case involves the molested body of an eight-year-old girl, found in the mountains of Nevada. After breaking the news to the girl's parents, Jerry makes a pledge to the distraught mother that he would find the killer. The chief suspect is a mentally challenged Native American who commits suicide during an interrogation.
Jerry doesn't believe that he is the killer, however, so he begins investigating. He learns that two similar incidents had occurred in the area. Mindful of the pledge he made, he buys an old gas station in the mountains, and searches for a tall man who calls himself the Wizard, using clues from a drawing done by the murdered girl. He is the only person to suspect that a serial killer is involved, and his obsession with finding the killer begins to erode his sanity as he strives to keep his promise.