This film made Emilio Estevez, at 23, the youngest person to ever write, direct, and star in a major motion picture.

More Trivia from Wisdom
"My parents always thought I was a good kid. My dad wanted me to become a lawyer. My mom said I should become a doctor. I became a convicted felon instead."

So says John Wisdom (Emilio Estevez). On high school graduation night, he got drunk and stole a car. The judge sentenced him to community service and John got a felony on his record at the age of 18. Now out of school and looking for a job, he tries everywhere. However, that little felony prevents his employment. It's a world where people believe "once a felon, always a felon."

After getting work as a janitor, he's fired by his supervisor, who says that this isn't the work for him. He's not happy in it. Well, at least he has his pretty girlfriend Karen (Demi Moore) to comfort him.

When lying on an application for City Burger about his felony gets him fired by his boss (Charlie Sheen in a cameo), John has had it. He deicides that he'll become a criminal, just what the rest of society makes him out to be.

"Jesus H. Christ. Fired by City Burger. For lying. Karen was right. I was angry at the world for not getting a fair shake. I needed to make some changes. I needed to take some risks with my life. I would never, ever put on a suit and tie again. There just didn't seem to be a place for me in the business world and that's O.K. by me. So, I decided that I was going to become exactly the world expected me to become. Something our society had left me no choice but to become. A criminal."

John goes over the various criminal methods, from arson (wouldn't be effective unless he owned the building he was torching) to kidnapping (just couldn't do it), he winds up seeing a program on the plight of people in middle America. The common man is losing his property to the greedy Gordon Gecko-wannabes in the banking and business worlds. And that's when it hits John. He'll become a criminal all right, but he'll become a criminal FOR the people.

Buying an Uzi, making explosives and borrowing his mom's car, he sets off for the nearest bank. However, car trouble slows him down until he's picked up by Karen and dropped off at the bank.

Holding up the place, John takes $700 (all the money in his account and ONLY his account) and uses his homemade explosives to destroy the loan records, giving people a little more time to pay their loans off.

Getting away with Karen, she reluctantly decides to stand by her man and accomnpany him on his newfound life of crime. Pursued by two FBI agents, Williamson (William Allen Young) and Cooper (Richard Minchenburg), whom he outsmarts at every turn and with the help of the common man, John thinks his newfound life is sweet.

Until Karen accidentially shoots and kills a police officer who was intent on sending their asses to jail and the manhunt intensifies. These events send John and Karen on a path that doesn't look like it will have a happy end.


Emilio Estevez's first outing as a director (with aid from executive producer and seasoned director Robert Wise) and second outing as screenwriter (his first was the adaptation of S.E. Hinton's THAT WAS THEN... THIS IS NOW) is an interesting little film.

With a nice central concept, some good dialogue and nice scenes of Wisdom narrating are excellent. One of the best scenes is a scene near the end where Wisdom calls home to talk to his parents. Estevez's writing, the direction of the scene, the acting, and Danny Elfman's excellent score help to really sell this.

THe acting from The six main actors (Estevez, Moore, Skerrit, Cartwright, Young, and Minchenburg) are pretty well-done. Minor characters are a little less well-acted, but your mileage may vary.

Unfortuantely, for all it's pluses, WISDOM has a couple of weaknesses. As this was his first crack at an original screenplay, there was bound to be some bad dialogue and the film is hurt a little by it. What really keeps the film from a 10 is the horribly self-defeating ending, which I will not reveal here. Hunt down a copy of the film and you'll see what I mean.

An underrated gem with one or two flaws, WISDOM deserves to be seen at least once.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Great performances, nice direction, good Danny Elfman score.

Weaknesses? Some bad lines, an EXTREMELY self-defeating ending.

Our rating: 8.5 out of 10

Review Written by Kyle Palkowski:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Kyle Palkowski