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(Review originally written at 17 November 2008)

I never have been a too big fan of movies based on John Grisham novels, since they are quite boring within its genre but I've always liked this movie, though in all honesty the movie really starts loosing some of its power on repeated viewing.

The movie has a real inspiring and powerful story. focusing on moral dilemmas, racial issues and the legal system, when a black man shoots and kills two racist white men who had just raped and attempted to kills his 10-year old daughter. It makes this also a real original movie to watch within its genre; the courtroom-drama. The movie mixes its 3 main themes; racial issues, moral dilemmas and the legal system, really well and effectively. It might sound like a messy movie and as a movie that is trying to preach but it in fact is a really well constructed and balanced movie, that is skillfully being directed by Joel Schumacher, as weird as that might sound, considering that he mostly makes some really below par movies. Even his best movies are mostly lacking in more than one way. This movie can perhaps be regarded as his least lacking and simply best movie. Fair is fair, he simply did a good job with this movie.

When I first saw this movie it made quite an impression on me, due to its great story about justice. The movie angered me, the movie moved me and it simply grabbed me all throughout. The movie makes its point and is showing the less pretty side of the legal system and the treatment of Afro-American people within it and the treatment of those people in the south of America in general.

Samuel L. Jackon has picked several roles like this throughout his career; a black man against society and the system. He seems like a person to me who is always making a big point out of racial issues and the treatment and acceptance of Afro-Americans in America in particular. In all honesty, it often more annoys me than that I find it something admirable and it just doesn't always work out that well and effectively within a movie. This particular movie forms an exception to this though and like I said before it's a movie that makes its point well, by often exaggerating and generalizing things of course but it nevertheless comes across well and powerful.

Yes, some things come across as being quite over-the-top and not exactly as anything too believable and I do feel that the movie is overdoing it a bit at times but the movie is just never going too far with it and it knows to maintain a good balance between the strong realistic aspects and the more 'Hollywood' like aspects and themes of the movie.

You also really have to give movie credit for its cast. You have to remember that this movie got made back in 1996, when very few people had an idea who actors such as Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Chris Cooper and Kiefer Sutherland all were. Besides that, the movie also features some already well established names such as Samuel L. Jackson, Oliver Platt, Donald Sutherland and Patrick McGoohan in one of his last big movie roles. I say last, not because he's death, he's very much alive still but he rarely stars in any movies, pretty much like he has done throughout his entire career. Seems like he is just more an actor who enjoys working on the stage.

Simply a great and effective movie within its genre, although it's already starting to loose some of its power, 12 years later. So it will most likely not become a classic in 30 years from now.

8/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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