Everybody's a critic - 'Runaway Jury'

Friday, October 24, 2003

One star (out of four)

Don't read any further if you don't want the plot spoiled for you. The story line is a jury deciding a widow vs. gun manufacturer case, and they side with the widow. If you care about gun control issues, you may like this movie a lot better than I did. There is lots of preaching about "guns are bad, and so are the companies who make them." Blah, blah, who cares.

Dustin Hoffman plays the prosecutor, and Gene Hackman plays the bad guy. John Cusack is a jury member out to fix the verdict, which he does. The movie should have been longer to better explain some things, but I would have fainted if it were five seconds longer. People entertained by this movie are probably entertained every time they see their own shadow. Use your money as a Kleenex instead of spending it on this sleeping aid of a movie.

--Chris Taylor

Three and a half stars (out of four)

This film has an all-star lineup. First, it is based on a novel by John Grisham, whose talent is paramount. The producers picked only the best headliners with John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and the beautiful Rachel Weisz. Even the supporting actors are faces you'll recognize.

I really like the film. It has all the elements of success, intimidation, bribery, suspense and a touch of romance.

Gene Hackman is villainous jury consultant Rankin Finch, whom you love to hate. Dustin Hoffman earns your respect as a defense lawyer with a moral core, and Nick Easter as Juror No. 9 leads you on an emotional roller coaster where you ask yourself, Is he a hero or manipulative con artist?

The twisted plot keeps you guessing until the surprise plot unfolds at the very end. This is a must-see movie in my book.

--Carolyn Kempf

One and a half stars (out of four)

This is the first movie I have seen that was based on a John Grisham novel. Based on this experience, I wouldn't waste my time with another.

What starts out as an interesting exercise in what could happen to influence a jury in a high-profile, super-important trial becomes a simple propaganda flick. This movie could have been better if it hadn't chosen sides, but maybe that wasn't the point.

There is no acting in this movie, and the characters are all stereotypes. In real acting there are real characters with inner conflict. These characters are strictly one-dimensional.

John Cusack has begun a trend of making one pretty good film and then two or three stinkers. Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman are establishing themselves as actors who have been around for about 30 years and have made three or four good films each.

--Carl Wagner

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