In John Wells' 'The Company Men,' which opens in limited release later this month before expanding in January, Tommy Lee Jones plays a top-level executive at a shipbuilding company who is facing a crisis of conscience. The company has begun laying off thousands of workers to deal with the economic downturn -- sales exec Ben Affleck is among the first to go, while middle-management exec Chris Cooper fears for his survival -- and Jones rages at the light, fighting a losing battle with his boss and old friend Craig T. Nelson in behalf of humane and fair treatment of the employees.
Initially it seems odd to see Jones dressed in expensive suits with every hair in place. He gives an exquisite performance as a businessman worn down by the ceaseless corporate quest for more profits and increased shareholder value, no matter the human cost. But we've become much more accustomed to seeing him chase down the bad guys, whether as a weathered sheriff in 'No Country for Old Men' or as a no-nonsense U.S. Marshal in 'The Fugitive,' his best role to date. What makes the latter performance so special?