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Time to Kill, A

Reviewed By Ryan Arthur
Posted 09/05/98 01:27:06

"Ugh, Sandra Bullock."
3 stars (Average)

Another Grisham adaptation. Super.

Based on John Grisham's first (and best, I'd argue) novel, A Time To Kill tells the story of a man (Samuel L. Jackson) who goes on trial for the murder of two rednecks who raped his daughter. It's set in Mississippi, so along with the courtroom drama, the Klan's involved, and a young hotshot lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) trying to make a name for himself in defending his client.

What's good? Well, some of the performances. Jackson and Kevin Spacey (as the prosecutor) are outstanding, as always. McConaughey is passable, and the smaller roles filled out by Brenda Fricker, Charles S. Dutton and Donald Sutherland, among others, aren't too bad. The movie looks good: it captures the heat and humidity of Mississippi really well.

What's bad? Sandra Bullock, Sandra Bullock, Sandra Bullock, Sandra Bullock, Sandra Bullock. Horribly miscast as the young sexpot law student who comes down to Mississippi to help McConaughey win the case. She should've been cast as his wife, and Ashley Judd should've had Bullock's role. And is it me, or is the Klan a little too clean? Director Joel Schumacher has made a movie that knowingly and willingly pushes racial buttons (much like the book does). Outside the uniforms, the Klansmen are the epitome of backwoods rednecks. But in uniform, as it were, the Klansmen are dressed in positively pristine outfits. Gleamingly white. It could almost pass for a pro-Klan rally.

Not a horrible film, but like previous Schumacher efforts (including The Client, a previous Grisham adaptation), it's a matter of style over substance.

As courtroom dramas go, it's an average film.

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