Grisham. Damon. Coppola?Initially, I thought to myself, "Wow, Coppola doing a Grisham adaptation. Hell really did freeze over. He must just be trying to redeem himself for releasing Jack on an unsuspecting public in 1996." The good news is that Coppola succeeds in adapting a Grisham novel to the big screen. The bad news is that Coppola succeeds in adapting a *Grisham* novel to the screen. Like in every Grisham storyline, a lawyer gets in over his/her head with some shady characters, ends up going to trial, and miraculously wins one for the little guy in a case that could only be cracked (and won) in the movies. It was Tom Cruise in The Firm, Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief, Susan Sarandon in The Client, Matthew McConaghey in A Time To Kill, and Chris O'Donnell in the Chamber.
But on the strength of his actors and the sense of humor that's lacking from most Grisham adaptations, Coppola pulls it off. This time, it's golden boy Matt Damon as the idealistic young lawyer who gets pulled into the web of an insurance company scam. Damon's perfect for the role. His Rudy Baylor is green, fresh out of law school and already disgusted with his chosen profession. Damon has charisma, leading man looks, and what's more, the guy can act. Jon Voight seems to be content in using the latter half of his career to work on villainous roles (in 1997 alone: sinister snake hunter in Anaconda, sinister Army General in the blink-and-you-missed-it Most Wanted, sinister weird guy in U-Turn, and sinister defense lawyer here). Amazingly enough, Claire Danes shows depth as the battered wife of...Andrew Shue?...whom Damon falls for, and the rest of the cast (Mary Kay Place, Danny Glover, Danny Devito and Mickey Rourke, who seriously needs to start showering) all do quite well with the cardboard cutouts that pass for characters that Copplola is forced to deal with. But it's Damon's movie, and he carries it well.
In short, The Rainmaker can't compare with earlier Coppola films (duh), but it's still a diamond of the rough.This movie got beat out opening weekend at the box office by Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Isn't that just wrong?