Runaway Jury

UK release date: Mar 26 2008

cast list

John Cusack
Rachel Weisz
Dustin Hoffman
Gene Hackman

directed by
Gary Fleder

John Grisham adaptations died a death at the box office with the failures of The Chamber and The Gingerbread Man. Studio heads though, obviously remembering the wonder years of The Firm and The Pelican Brief, believed that one of his most successful novels could still prove a crowd-pleaser.

Rankin Fitch, an aggressive jury consultant, has been retained for one of the most controversial trials of the decade. A gun manufacturer is on trial and some powerful figures are intent on gaining the verdict they want. However, after selecting a jury, they discover that Nick Easter, one of the twelve jurors, has his own agenda and soon a battle for power prevails, with dangerously high stakes.

For anyone doubting yet another Grisham thriller, Runaway Jury comes out as possibly the most entertaining of all. It’s a fast paced courtroom thriller where events are just as interesting outside the court as well as inside it. The enjoyment factor is certainly heightened by such a stellar cast.

John Cusack proves once again that he is one of the most engaging leading men currently working in Hollywood while Rachel Weisz nicely replays some of the con-woman shtick she perfected in Confidence. Dustin Hoffman is suitably perfect, playing a morally torn man desperate to see justice, but also to keep on the right side of the law and Gene Hackman delivers an intense performance delivering some great moments.

It rattles along at a fast pace, leaving a lot of the implausible aspects of the script ignored as you get caught up in the twisting plot. The film also boasts a nice sense of moral ambiguity as characters question right and wrong and also the price they are willing to pay to get what they want. The cheesy ending undermines this however, as lines of good and evil are strictly separated and predictability ensues.

For most of the ride though, Runaway Jury is great fun. It’s knowingly mainstream entertainment, but none the worse for it. Cracking performances from the four leads and some tense moments add up to one of the more satisfying thrillers of recent months.

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