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A Time to Kill
A Time to Kill
Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt
Director: Joel Schumacher
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     1997     2hr 29min

John Grisham's bestseller A Time to Kill hits the screen with incendiary force, directed by Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, The Client). Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey portray the ...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt
Director: Joel Schumacher
Creators: Arnon Milchan, Hunt Lowry, John Grisham, Michael G. Nathanson, William M. Elvin, Akiva Goldsman
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/26/1997
Original Release Date: 07/24/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 07/24/1996
Release Year: 1997
Run Time: 2hr 29min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 2
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Member Movie Reviews

Claudia K. from N ARLINGTON, NJ
Reviewed on 1/20/2021...
I want to read Grishams newest book...A Time For Mercy....its the third in this series and I figured I would watch the movie to save some time...WELL...I so enjoyed this movie...there is great acting and the story is appropriate for the time we are living in.
If you haven't seen it...even made me cry!
Leah G. (Leahbelle) from NIPOMO, CA
Reviewed on 4/10/2016...
This movie if fraught with big named stars and violence, but extremely well acted and never a dull moment. It's definitely a movie worth seeing.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chuck B. (ChuckB4Me) from WENTZVILLE, MO
Reviewed on 1/16/2015...
This is a good story, you don't quite know from the beginning who the real victim is, but as the story progresses it all fits together well. Very good storyline to watch.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Amy N. (dejavualloveragain) from NEWCASTLE, WY
Reviewed on 2/16/2011...
This is a very good revenge movie that grabs the viewers emotions right out of the gate and doesn't let go. All of the actors in this movie do a fantastic job in their roles, Samuel L. Jackson is simply superb. A note of caution to sensitive viewers: the opening scene allows the viewer to imagine the worst; does not show the viewer the horrible sexual assault of the little girl but it is graphically described in court scenes later in the movie.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Incredible is an Understatement, Deeply Moving
Ryan Costantino | Nowhere, Special | 02/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"John Grisham's tale of justifiable revenge was one of the best films of 1996. When a black man kills the two white rednecks who brutally raped and beat his daughter it seems his conviction of the murders will be cut and dry. So when the small town's lawyer is asked by the man (played with masterful skill by Samuel L. Jackson) to defend him it seems a hopeless cause. But when the klan gets involved the case becomes personal. This film is entirely unsettling because it makes us realize that events like this still happen in small towns throughout America, especially in the South. The themes of racism, of overcoming racism, of justifiable homicide, of justice outside the law are so superbly represented in this film that it seems impossible to me that this movie wasn't nominated for many Academy Awards. But alas, the past is the past. Chock full of great performances (especially Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey) and masterful direction by Joel Schumacher, A Time to Kill is one heck of a movie. A true classic."
Gets better each time
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I saw this movie shortly after it came to video and thought it was a pretty good movie. Then a couple years later, I saw it again. And it just kind of stuck in my brain. I'll be reading or listening to something, and it will remind me of the movie. In conversations I bring up this film all the time because it is so relevant to important issues of our time. Racism, vigilante action, legal issues, etc. The more you watch this movie, the more it makes you think.And if you're not interested in thinking about some of the larger philosophical issues at hand, there's still plenty of stuff for you. You've got Matthew McConaughey who does a phenomenal job, and looks great while at it. Oliver Platt imbues his character with just the right amount of sleaze and charm that you can't help but love him. Donald Sutherland is absolutely lovable as the old-school gentleman (and you and your friends can argue over whether he's a lush or or a drunk/alcoholic). Sandra Bullock does a believable job, and the men tend to find Ashley Judd rather attractive in this role. And let's not forget Samuel L. Jackson, who makes his character so real that you understand the situation he's in and why he does what he does. So basically, there's something for everyone here. Thinking stuff with good looking people (male and female) who act well. Can't go wrong with this one."
Dynamite Cast with the best Grisham Adaptation on Film
Mark J. Fowler | Okinawa, Japan | 11/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"What would it take to duplicate the cast of this film? Made only eight years ago I'd think today you'd break the bank putting together:

Matthew McConaughey
Sandra Bullock
Samuel L. Jackson
Kevin Spacey
Oliver Platt
Charles Dutton
Donald Sutherland
Kiefer Sutherland
Patrick McGoohan
Ashley Judd
Chris Cooper

The story is in some ways rather straightforward. Samuel Jackson's 10 year old daughter is raped and tortured by two rednecks in the opening minutes. Mercifully, the girl lives through the event and the two rednecks are arrested. Thinking that in Mississippi they're going to be acquitted "like them boys raped that girl last year" Samuel's Carl Lee Haley asks Matthew's Southern Lawyer Jake Brigance if he'd "help him out if he got into some trouble", then takes an M-16 and shoots the rednecks on the way to a court hearing, destroying Deputy Chris Cooper's leg in the process.

The rest of the movie seems pretty straight-forward, almost predictably so. Jake is tasked with defending a black man in Mississippi of murders which were committed in full sight of many people, including Jake himself and several law officers. Kiefer Sutherland, as the brother of one of the rednecks, enlists the assistance of the Klan to make sure that Carl "gets it" and to make sure that anyone attempting to help Carl is also intimidated (killed.... houses burned.... etc....) In this movie the Klan is a living, breathing entity with apparently much leeway to conduct its nefarious business.

Donald Sutherland is the alcoholic lawyer mentor of Jake - disbarred for some police violence during some political activism. Kevin Spacey is the ambitious District Attorney with a nomination for Governor in his back pocket. Charles Dutton is the black sheriff who doesn't hesitate to stand toe to toe with the Klan - the scenes where Klan members are in any way subdued are due to this strong character. Ashley Judd is Jake's pretty Mississippi Sorority-Belle wife who initially thinks that Jake accepts Carl Lee's case to "prove what a big-time lawyer" he is. When the Klan tries bombing Jake's house Ashley packs up their daughter and heads to the grandparent's house. On the first day of the case a hotshot law student comes wheeling into town, played by Sandra Bullock, wanting to make her name stamping out the death penalty.

The story is told in a linear fashion, but the performances make this compelling stuff. The NAACP come to town to provide for Carl's defense, and the scene where Carl tells them "thanks but no thanks" brings a new closeness to Carl and Jake. The movie provides for some riveting moments from Jackson as Carl and McConaughey as Jake. I've read that Mr. McConaughey delivered the summation scene in a single take. It is an astonishing piece of acting. There are several shots of extras crying, and I can't help but wonder if this wasn't an honest response to his performance.

There is a scene before the last trial scene where Carl tells Jake that he has hung onto him as his lawyer because "you one of the bad guys, Jake. I needs the jury to see me like you see me". If there is a weakness in the way that the story is told, it's that the whole movie is told the way the all-white jury would see it. The other black characters are brief and one-dimensional. Carl Lee's wife is in several scenes - looking concerned but with almost no dialogue. Since her daughter is raped and tortured and her husband is on trial, shouldn't we care as much about what SHE thinks as Jake's wife? We spend a fair amount of time watching what the Klan is doing. Shouldn't we be at least as interested in what the black community is doing?

Jake sets out to "prove a black man can get a fair trial in Mississippi". But can he prove that vigilante justice is ok even if everyone in the community knows that in race-hate-crimes in the world of this film black people can't expect fair treatment?

The movie reverberates with echoes of "To Kill a Mockingbird". Or at least it wants to. For a film of this type I can't think of a more admirable goal."