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Could have been better

  • Dec 19, 2008
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Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) is a poor black man in a racially-divided Southern town. When two white men brutally rape his daughter, he decides to kill them and he does - in front of witnesses. The hot-shot DA (Kevin Spacey) is almost guaranteed a murder conviction, and novice attorney Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) decides to defend Carl Lee.

This movie is so full of top-notch actors I expected to be swept up in the story and moved by it, but I wasn't; many of the actors are wasted and I kept wondering if it would ever end. Although Sandra Bullock gets top billing, she doesn't become involved in the film until an hour and fifteen minutes in, and then she's in and out and has nothing to do but look good. McConaughey is the star; he's perfect as a young Atticus Finch-type and definitely the best part of the movie. Spacey is mesmerizing as always in his off-beat way, but he plays a one-dimensional bad guy. The wonderful Chris Cooper is wasted in a small part, as are Donald and Keifer Sutherland and Ashley Judd. Oliver Platt is just annoying as Jake's buffoonish buddy.

It's way too slow-moving as every nuance of courtroom protocol is tediously explored, while the rampant racial hatred of the town could have been an exciting movie all by itself. The trial's outcome is never really in doubt, but still it's a surprising verdict. The movie should have had fewer characters and subplots and let us connect more with Carl Lee and his family, instead of focusing on the handsome lawyer. I imagine this Grisham story worked better as a novel than a film.

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review by . December 16, 2008
I love A Time to Kill because it's one of those films where you end up wanting the "bad guy" to win. In this case, Samuel L Jackson plays a father who murders the two men accused of raping his child. He is then put on trial for murder and must face a small town Mississippi jury.     While you acknowledge that Jackson did murder several people, deep down you want him to go free. Why? Well primarily because he did kill the people who raped his daughter, but also, because you know …
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About this movie


A Time to Kill is a 1996 film based on author John Grisham's 1989 novel of the same name. It stars many well-known actors, including Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey.

The film is set in Canton, Mississippi, a fictional town, where a young girl is raped and the accused rapists are arrested and then assassinated by the girl's father, Carl Lee Hailey. The remainder of the film focuses on Hailey's trial for murder.

The film received acclaim from critics and was viewed as a box office success, grossing more than $110 million after it's July 24 release.

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