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PCR # 188  (Vol. 4, No. 44)  This edition is for the week of October 27--November 2, 2003.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Runaway Jury"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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20th Century Fox     
Starring: John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven and Bruce McGill
Directed by: Gary Fleder
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 7 minutes

Based on the John Grisham novel (though the book's bad guys, the tobacco industry, has been changed to gun manufacturers), "Runaway Jury" is a well performed, yet sometimes unbelievable, story.

A widow whose husband was murdered has filed suit against the makers of the gun used by the killer. She has enlisted the aide of attorney Hoffman, who assures her the case is winnable. However, the gun guys have enlisted the best man at picking a winning jury (Hackman). He doesn't choose them by their questionnaires, he picks them after a scrutinizing look at their past. Any misdeeds, crimes, affairs he learns about makes them more willing to render the verdict he needs. Which is why he doesn't like prospective juror Cusack. He can't find anything out about his past and for this reason he doesn't like him. And as far as we can tell, Cusack is trying his best to NOT make the jury. But looks can be deceiving.

While not as intriguing as previous Grisham novels/films like "The Firm" or "The Client," "Runaway Jury" has one major achievement: the cast. From the biggest lawyer to the smallest juror, and everyone connected to them, the performances are top notch. Cusack is his usual quiet self, saying more with a glance or a nod then most actors do with dialogue. Piven, who most recently was the smarmy school dean in "Old School," is very good as Hoffman's jury expert. And Bruce McGill, who has grown from playing "D-day" in "Animal House" into a much sought after character actor, does a fine job as the trial judge. But the attraction here are the two "H" men! With a combined 60 plus years on screen and 4 Oscars between them, it is hard to believe that long time friends Hoffman and Hackman have never appeared together on screen. Both give excellent performances, with Hackman's no-nonsense, accept-no-excuses trial-expert the highlight.

With the upcoming barrage of holiday films approaching, it may be some time before a good, old fashioned adult drama hits the screen. Don't let this "Runaway" get away. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Runaway Jury" Three stars

This week's movie review of "Runaway Jury" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2003, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.