From master storyteller John Grisham and the director of Don't Say A Word comes a taut suspense-thriller that "grabs hold of you and never lets go" (Philadelphia Metro). In their first film together, screen legends Gene Ha... more »ckman and Dustin Hoffman face off in this electrifying nail-biter about a ruthless jury consultant who'll do anything to win. With lives and millions of dollars at stake, the fixer plays a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a jury member (John Cusack) and a mysterious woman (Rachel Weisz) who offer to "deliver" the verdict to the highest bidder. Packed with danger, intrigue and pulse-pounding twists and turns, Runaway Jury rules!« less
A good story subverted by ham-fisted propagandizing
DavidRoss | Woodland, CA United States | 02/22/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Director Gary Fleder has previously made several mediocre Hollywood thrillers that incidentally glamorize violence. Now he turns one of John Grisham's best novels--an intricately-plotted thriller about jury-tampering in a tobacco trial--into a mediocre Hollywood thriller that shamelessly propagandizes for the gun control lobby. Has he suddenly grown some sort of conscience? Or tumbled into the sack with Sarah Brady, or Ed Asner, or ...?It's too bad this production got carried away with preaching to the converted, for it sabotages Grisham's splendid story and a first-rate cast for the sake of it's ham-fisted anti-gun political agenda. Gene Hackman is excellent (as usual) as the professional jury-rigger. John Cusak and Rachel Weisz are nearly as good as his amateur nemeses. Unfortunately, Dustin Hoffman demonstrates again that his best days are far behind him with another competent but uninspired performance. (What's with that accent?) And a strong supporting cast (including Bruce Davison, Nora Dunn, Bruce McGill, & Jeremy Piven) is mostly wasted in this misguided adaptation. Even so, their good performances and first-rate production values make this movie moderately entertaining, as long as you don't expect fidelity to Grisham's story--or unless the absurdly one-sided propagandizing strains your credulity beyond the breaking point."
Bad interpretation of the book
Phillip Phan | Baltimore, MD | 10/25/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Hackman and Hoffman were typecasted. Cusack, forgettable. Keep your eye out for Weisz (Marlee), she's got potential. 3 stars because she carried the movie.Read the book, it's a lot more exciting and coherent. The film attempts to make a political point about gun control but falls completely flat because the arguments are never developed and so the reason for jury tampering is not believable. Anyone with half an understanding of "agency" would realize that there was no case against the gun manufacturer in the way it was setup. Therefore, the verdict at the end looked more like jury revolt, ala O.J. Simpson (a tired theme), than jury tampering (the point of the story). The film maker should have stuck with the tobacco manufacturers, as in the book. But I suppose this would have dated the movie. I am surprised that Grisham, a lawyer, allowed the movie to be rewritten this way. I guess he was paid a lot of money to look the other way."
Weisz and Hackman shine with a unfaithful script.
Hedi Bosworth | Morris Plains, New Jersey | 10/27/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"While I do understand the fact that books that becomes movies usually do not follow the same pattern of the book, I can't forgive the fact that this film does not even follow the book's theme. While that does bother me, I can't deny the fact that the movie was entertaining. Mostly because of the performances of the actors involve. The Best of these performances goes to Gene Hackman, who is always a delight to watch and is always capable of taking a mediocre film and making it better. The other goes to Rachel Weisz, who not only holds her own with the Great Gene Hackman but also matches his intensity with lethal charm. Don't go in with the notion that this will be just like the book, but go in knowing that you will be entertain by two great actors at there game."
Another political message disguised as entertainment
R. Maguire | Burbank, CA United States | 10/26/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a supporter of the anti-gun lobby, you'll love this. Personally, I don't like being preached at when all I'm supposedly promised is a good movie! I think it insightful that they don't bother to mention the actual subject matter of the script in the trailer, even though it turns out to be the founding theme of the entire movie; almost as if they're afraid the truth will stop you from going in the first place - they're right; I wouldn't have! As a movie about a court case, it's just fine, but all that is drowned in a sea of idealogical presentation where the case against gun ownership is clearly and even eloquently, at times, spelt out by the applicable legable representative. Neither surprisingly nor unpredictably (sad to say) however, the other side's case never really gets aired except with continual distractions and cut-aways; all one ends up with is some vague references of defending the 2nd amendment simply because it's part of the constitution, rather than the self-defence reasons that are more important to most people. The usual tug-on-the-heartstrings hopes to turn off your brain so that you'll just allow yourself to be spoon fed their version of this issue.
I don't like being taken for a fool, and I'm left having to wonder - if they think their case is so strong then why are they so afraid to give the same amount of 'air time' for the 'rest of the story'? Oh, and, of course, the only real bad guy on the jury is an ex-marine.
So, if you like political messages, this is for you; if you just want to actually go and see a good movie and be entertained, keep looking!"
Sleazy, cheesy, but fun. Hoffman and Weisz steal the show
Samuel McKewon | Lincoln, NE | 11/04/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The plot goes round and round in "Runaway Jury" and the camera is in lockstep, swirling around its actors as if they stood at the pivot of a merry-go-round, dizzying the audience into a headache of chaos, the better to distract them from a movie that makes no sense at all. That said, the story is so thorough in its cynic fantasy it is (like, say, "Cruel Intentions") pretty entertaining.Gene Hackman, who at 73 never slows down, is sternly malevolent as Rankin Fitch, a high-priced jury consultant whose arsenal of espionage tools and recon foot soldiers rivals the KGB. The "war room" scene where he breaks down his potential pawns is informative; though nobody is going to spend $15 million to select 12 people - as movie contends - there is an art to it, and the technique is laid out far better here than it was in "Devil's Advocate." Fitch assists a New Orleans gun manufacturer caught in a class action lawsuit only plausible in movies, and one of the jurors, Nick Easter (John Cusack), and his girlfriend, Marlee (Rachel Weisz), are blackmailing both the defendant and the plaintiff, represented by Wendall Rohr (Dustin Hoffman). Nick and Marlee claim they can sway the jury and sell the verdict to the highest bidder. As the plot unfurls it becomes possible that they aren't trying to buy anything, but play a con, backed by a Moral. That's a sweet proletariat consideration, but in terms of doing justice, it's robbing Peter to pay Paul.Director Gary Fleder ("Don't Say A Word") is far more devoted to winding us up than meditating on the legal system; with cinematographer Robert Elswit, Fleder jerks and spins and speeds and slows and generally makes a drama soup out of things; New Orleans, one of the truly original cities, is merely background. Stuffed to the brim with action, "Runaway Jury" is economical and workmanlike, like Grisham's thrillers, and a strong vehicle for performers. Hackman, borrowing from his magnificent work in "The Royal Tanenbaums" is a fine rascal, and Cusack hasn't been this shifty since "The Grifters." The surprise? It's Weisz, as the feisty brains of the operation. She holds her own with Hackman, which is more than can be said for a broken-down, weathered Hoffman."