A Time To Kill

"Weak"

A Time To Kill Review


Remember the hoopla over the novel A Time To Kill? It was celebrated author John Grisham's second book -- actually his first book -- the book he published after The Firm became a hit. The book that no one wanted before he was famous. The book, apparently, that, if it hadn't had his name on it, would never have been published.

Now it's the fourth Grisham movie to be made, continuing in grand fashion that franchise of increasingly average film versions of his increasingly average writing.

In fact, A Time To Kill is the most average of all of these films, and it hinges on two vital elements: if you take a book written by John Grisham and throw in Sandra Bullock in a see-thru tank top, you've got yourself a hit! And the producers are probably right.

The story is so simple it barely merits retelling here: A young girl is raped. Her father, Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), faster than you can yell "Oswald!", murders the two rednecks responsible. Young upstart lawyer Jake Brigance (Matthew Mcconaughey, playing the most-pumped-up lawyer of all time) defends him, with a little pro bono help (if you catch my drift) from Ellen Roark (the tank-topped Bullock). Bad guy Rufus Buckley (Kevin Spacey) prosecutes. And good ol' boy Judge Noose (get it?) (Patrick McGoohan) presides.

Never has a 145-minute film been less thrilling and more predictable. From a continuity standpoint, it makes absolute perfect sense why each scene follows another. From an audience standpoint, this is terribly boring. Sure, A Time To Kill has some frightening imagery (particularly of the KKK uprising) and some great speeches (Brigance's closing argument brings everyone on the screen to tears, and probably some of the audience, too), but you can't overcome a limp plot with that stuff.

I suppose that's where Bullock's clothing comes in. And another thing -- why is everyone so sweaty in every scene? I know this is the deep South, but they do have air-conditioning in Mississippi, don't they? And why doesn't Brigance ever light his cigar? Little questions... but annoying ones.

Who knows the answers? Who cares? Fine performances all around, typical Joel Schumacher direction, and a nice analysis of Southern race relations make for a movie that is simply indescribable as anything other than...

Average.

Like I was saying...



A Time To Kill

Facts and Figures

Run time: 149 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 24th July 1996

Box Office Worldwide: $152.3M

Budget: $40M

Distributed by: Warner Home Video

Production compaines: Regency Enterprises, Warner Bros. Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jake Tyler Brigance, as Ellen Roark, Samuel L. Jackson as Carl Lee Hailey, as D.A. Rufus Buckley, as Harry Rex Vonner, Charles S. Dutton as Sheriff Ozzie Walls, as Ethel Twitty, as Lucien Wilbanks, as Freddie Lee Cobb, as Judge Omar Noose, as Carla Brigance, Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly as Tonya Hailey, Tonea Stewart as Gwen Hailey, as Tim Nunley, as Deputy Dwayne Powell Looney, as Billy Ray Cobb, as James Louis 'Pete' Willard, as Stump Sisson, Tim Parati as Winston, as Cora Mae Cobb, as Dr. Wilbert Rodeheaver, as Dr. Willard Tyrell 'W.T.' Bass (the Defense Psychologist)


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