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Runaway Jury

Starring John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz
Screenplay by Brian Koppleman & David Leven and Rick Cleveland and Matthew Chapman
Based on the novel by John Grisham
Directed by Gary Fleder

IN SHORT: Interesting, intriguing and totally illegal doings inside a court room. A great sit. [Rated PG-13 for violence, language and thematic elements. 127 minutes]

Rule Numero Uno of this Site is that you shouldn't have to read the book to understand the movie and that guide holds up firmly, even though it took four pair of hands to make it so.

It is a lovely day in the brokerage firm where Kevin Peltier aka That Guy From 'The Practice' (Dylan McDermott) now works. What happens to him becomes meat for the story of Runaway Jury, which pits crusading lawyer Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) versus high powered and highly paid defender of the Corporate MegaBusiness Machine Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman). The former serving the needs of the widow Celeste Wood (Joanna Going) and her six year old son Henry (Jack Massey) . The latter defending the deep pockets of Vicksburg Firearms, makers of the weapon that did the killing. CEO Durwood Cable (Bruce Davison) sits at the defendant's table. Both lawyers are offered the opportunity to ensure that they win their respective side of the case by a mysterious woman named Marlee (Rachel Weisz), since the jury is under the control of a man who has spent many years working out the details of how to put the fix in.

Runaway Jury wisely skirts most of the political controversy stirred up by the Second Amendment and settles for a simple blackmail story teaming juror Nick Easter (John Cusack), a man with a definite anti-gun agenda, and the aforementioned Marlee. She works the phones to both sides, offering to deliver an acceptable verdict to whichever side ponies up $10 millions first. He thwarts the jury control tactics used by both sides of the case. Put all four actors together and stir gently and sit back for the best legal thriller since whatever the last John Grisham adaptation was.

As for the trial: One side has database technology that, if it's anything even close to reality, should worry the hell out of any normal person. The other side has solid as a rock principles to lean on. Everyone has some sort of secret agenda and, by the time all is done, some have messed with fun things like illegal surveillance and criminal break ins and no one has any principles left. Well, almost no one. Judge Harkin (Bruce McGill) sure does but there's so much intrigue and down right skullduggery built into the story that you don't need to take a moral stance. If you need secrets and justification for the events you see on screen to believe in the underhanded dealings, you get that, too.

Runaway Jury does what good movies are supposed to. It defines its characters. It sets up a simple story and doesn't let those characters betray their part in that story. It tosses in a twist or two to keep everything interesting. The A-list participation kicks everything up a notch.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Runaway Jury, he would have paid . . .


see it. And check out CrankyCritic® StarTalk with Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.