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Runaway Jury

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Runaway Jury

Starring: John Cusack, Rachel Weisz
Director: Gary Felder
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 127 Minutes
Release Date: October 2003
Genres: Drama, Thriller

*Also starring: Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven, Bruce McGill, Nick Searcy, Stanley Anderson, Bruce Davison, Cliff Curtis, Bill Nunn

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

When the widow of a young stockbroker who was killed in an office shooting takes the gun manufacturer to court, a high-stakes trial in New Orleans results. The CEO of the Vicksburg Gun Company that manufactured the assault weapon used in the murder knows that a negative verdict could adversely affect the entire firearms industry, so he hires Rankin Fitch, a top-notch jury consultant, to advise his attorney (Bruce Davison). The widow (Joanna Going) is represented by a crusading veteran lawyer Wendall Rohr (Dustin Hoffman), who - at first - hasn't a clue about Fitch's high-tech jury tampering plot. Then an intriguing 'wild card' appears in the form of an outwardly reluctant but secretly savvy juror (John Cusack) who - with his mysterious accomplice (Rachel Weisz) - demands $10 million to deliver a favorable verdict, payable by either side.

Gene Hackman is convincing as the Machiavellian manipulator who asserts, "Trials are too important to be left up to juries." He plays perfectly off Dustin Hoffman's carefully calculated yet incorruptible morality, evoking memories of Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch in "To Kill A Mockingbird." Keep in mind this is Hackman's third film based on a John Grisham novel, following "The Firm" and "The Chamber" - and it's his first pairing with Dustin Hoffman.

Writer/director Gary Fleder ("Don't Say a Word") with his team of four screenwriters have turned the anti-tobacco bias of the novel into an anti-gun agenda. He keeps the tension taut as plot twists and the stakes slowly rise in the picturesque French Quarter, superbly photographed by Christopher Young. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Runaway Jury" is a slick, compelling, suspenseful 8, emphasizing the moral ambiguity that's at the heart of this thriller.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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