Sunday, October 16, 2005

[DVD] Runaway Jury (2003)

This was the last John Grisham book I've read in chronological order, starting from The Firm, and all of them thus far have been made into relatively successful movies with big names attached to the projects. While most of them have stuck fairly accurately to the source material (The Chamber by far was the most accurate, but therefore least interesting in my opinion), this one took a lot of liberty by swinging the main "baddies" from tobacco companies, to gun companies.

Not that it would have mattered a lot, given that both have the propensity to kill people. This film lends itself to some serious pondering on the jury system over the powers of the judge to determine the fate of the case. But with the jury system open to possible manipulation and tampering, like what was shown, perhaps there could never be a 100% foolproof way of ensuring that crime pays accurately. Justice is blind?

It's the third outing for Gene Hackman in a movie adapted from Grisham. He started off opposite Tom Cruise in The Firm, then opposite Chris O'Donnell in The Chamber, and now, stars as jury consultant cum manipulator Rankin Fitch, who has a team of upbeat high tech investigators in the game of ensuring that the jury is handpicked by them, for a particular case. It's highly interesting to see the way they apply assumptions, surveillance and various digging of skeletons of potential jurors, for the defence lawyer played by Bruce Davison, best known as Senator Kelly in the X-Men series.

Up against the defence is another powerhouse actor, Dustin Hoffman, as lawyer Wendell Rohr. Having Hoffman and Hackman pair up, for the very first time, is cinematic history in the making. Watch out for the washroom scene where these 2 share some very intense, argumentative moment together.

John Cusack and Rachel Weisz stars as Nicholas Easter and Marlee respectively, a team whose motive doesn't get revealed initially, other than to blackmail Rohr and Fitch into guaranteeing the jury's verdict in the favour of the one who can pay their 10 million dollars. To Fitch, they're small time players in this cat-and-mouse game, but he realizes that having an inside guy, in this case, Easter, who's on the jury, may prove to be just that guarantee he needs. Rohr, on the other hand, being more morally upright, struggles to come to terms with probably losing his case to a pair of hustlers.

While you may have read Grisham's novel, Runaway Jury will still keep you guessing, at least the motives of Easter and Marlee, up until the very last scene.

My favourite adaptation until now has always been A Time To Kill, starring Matthew McConaughey in his first lead role, with Samuel L Jackson. But Runaway Jury has air-dropped itself into joint number one spot, as I eagerly anticipate the next John Grisham adaptation. Any news, anyone?

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