Directed by Sydney Pollack
Based on the novel by John Grisham
Screenplay by David Rabe, Robert Towne, David Rayfiel
Starring: Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Jeanne Tripplehorn, David Strathairn
Mitch McDeere (Cruise) has finally made it. After three years in law school, Mitch and his wife Abby (Tripplehorn) are moving up in the world. Mitch is the newest associate of a large, but relatively unknown law firm nestled into the city of Memphis. After getting off to a quick start, Mitch is confronted by Agent Tarrance (Harris) of the F.B.I.. The government believes something far more devious is being done within the walls of the firm. Soon Mitch realizes that working for the firm involves a lifetime commitment. As he seeks a way out, he leaving nothing to chance.
This is yet another of John Grisham’s stories to go from novel to the big screen. Some of his other adapted works include The Rainmaker and Runaway Jury. For this film, the adaptation came from David Rabe (Casualties of War), Robert Towne (Chinatown), and David Rayfiel (‘Round Midnight). The direction was done by the talented Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa). The cast includes Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), Gene Hackman (The Conversation), and Ed Harris (Gravity). The film also features Holly Hunter (Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Monument Ave.), and David Strathairn (Lincoln). The movie earned two nominations at the Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress (Hunter) and Best Score. Additionally, the film was a major box office success.
As with most films adapted from successful novels, it’s important to acknowledge the division between those who prefer the book and those who prefer the movie. I don’t generally compare the two mediums, especially since both have obvious limitations. I enjoyed the novel, and in this case I enjoyed the movie as well. The story does stray from the way Grisham wrote it, and the ending is entirely new to the story. Thankfully, the portions of the book the writers stayed close to are the ones that developed the characters and keep the basis of the story strong. Overall, this is a nice adaptation of a very complex story from John Grisham.
The acting in the movie is pretty good as well. Tom Cruise does a nice job playing the intense young attorney. The relationship between his character and Abby, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, is also nicely done. Additionally, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, and David Strathairn do a good job with their roles. Rounding out the cast is Gene Hackman. As always, Hackman does an excellent job creating a character that’s believable and complex. Overall, nice work from the entire cast on this one.
The movie doesn’t try to do anything too unique from a visual standpoint. Still, the locations and the sets were chosen nicely and really work with the story. The camera work and all of the other technical aspects are a nice part of making this an enjoyable movie. The score supplements this movie nicely. Like most good film scores, the music in this one seems to echo the emotional content of the story.
This is a good movie, but not a great one. For fans of the book, this might let you down more often than not. For anyone willing to forgive those differences, or people who’ve never read it, this is a worthwhile watch. I would suggest this to fans of courtroom dramas, crime movies, or suspense films. I would also suggest this to fans of the actors in the movie. I give this one 3.6 out of 5 stars.