Runaway Jury

"Extraordinary"

Runaway Jury Review


It's a sunny weekday in beautiful New Orleans as a middle-aged, white-collar businessman arrives at his office. He settles into a chair behind his desk and ponders a song in his head. He can't think of the words, so he calls his secretary into the office. He explains to her that he will be celebrating his young daughter's birthday later today, and he promised to sing this song for her. The secretary smiles warmly and helps him remember the lyrics.

Suddenly, horror and chaos erupt as gunfire interrupts their singing. The businessman instructs the secretary to take shelter behind his desk as he locks the office door. After a moment, the gunfire stops, and he cautiously peeks outside the door -- only to be shot point blank in the head by the gunman, who then turns the weapon on himself.

Based on the novel by John Grisham, Runaway Jury opens with a bang -- literally -- and then jumps ahead as the widowed wife of the businessman brings a civil suit against the powerful gun conglomerate she holds responsible for her husband's death. Unknowingly, she begins a multi-million dollar case. Wendall Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) represents the widow, and is fueled by an honest passion for the case he presents. Opposing Wendall -- beyond the attorney representing the corporation -- is the experienced and ruthless jury consultant, Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman).

Stationed at a high tech center disguised as a French Quarter warehouse, Fitch and his team surveillance the potential jurors, inspecting their everyday lives so they can strategically manipulate the selection of the jury. Once the jury is chosen, however, Fitch and Rohr quickly discover they are not the only ones with an agenda. One juror, Nick Easter (John Cusack), appears to have plans of his own to sway the panel, and with the help of Marlee (Rachel Weisz), they inform both Rohr and Fitch that a verdict can sway either way... for a price that won't come cheap.

With credits that include Don't Say a Word and Kiss the Girls, Gary Fleder has definitely proven that he has a knack for helming taut, tightly wound thrillers, and Runaway Jury is his best work to date -- one of the year's best films. Fleder's passion for the story flows from the screen. He paints a colorful array of fascinating characters against a canvas of explosively controversial issues. Viewers unfamiliar with the book (which hinged on a tobacco lawsuit) will not foresee Fleder's perfectly timed plot twists; in fact, through what appears to be an innate wisdom of structure, he knows exactly what audiences will be expecting from the film, and often does exactly the opposite.

Fleder also ensembles an impressive cast that includes talent from several different generations. Hoffman is, as always, at the top of his game. He creates the impression of an actual personal by tapping into his character's peculiarities without being overly theatrical. On the other side of the fence, Hackman delivers an impressive, intentionally shallow performance. But unlike Hoffman, Hackman comes off as being very theatrical -- almost over-the-top. Still, the veteran actors play off each other very well.

Runaway Jury probably proved to be more challenging for Cusack and Weisz. Thanks to their natural style and charm, they have become very likable actors in previous movies, but Runaway Jury actually requires them to act. Cusack does not fare as well as one might expect, but Weisz, who has the toughest challenge of acting opposite both screen legends Hoffman and Hackman in crucial confrontation scenes, pulls her fair share of the weight.

From a political standpoint, the film does eventually take Hollywood's ultra-liberal perspective, but Runaway Jury is not as black and white as one might expect. There are no easy answers to the controversial political topics here, and the movie does not pretend otherwise. It debates them honestly and thought-provokingly, all while allowing its characters to have emotions and agendas of their own. While many viewers will disagree with the final political outcome of the film, it will definitely spark some heated conversations that will last long after the ending credits roll. Don't you just love it when a movie does that?

Hoffman points out the emergency exits.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 127 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th October 2003

Box Office USA: $49.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $80.2M

Budget: $60M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 113 Rotten: 43

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Nicholas Easter, as Rankin Fitch, as Wendell Rohr, as Marlee, as Judge Harkin, as Durwood Cable, as Lawrence Green, as Doyle, as Henry Jankle, as Janovich, as Frank Herrera, as Lamb, as Vanessa Lembeck, as Celeste Wood

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.