Not always an easy job to be a defense attorney. First you have your personal dreams and ideals and then you have your ethical ideals. Sometimes they don't always coincide with each other. Such is the trial facing Ben Chase (Gary Oldman), a successful defense attorney.
Providing a fine defense for his client Martin Thiel (Kevin Bacon), he is able to affect his acquittal in a murder trial. Plagued with doubts afterward of his clients innocence, Chase devises a plan with friends in the police department (Joe Don Baker and Tess Harper) to prove Thiel's guilt in not only the acquitted murder, but also other more recent ones. Thiel, being demented as most murderers are, begins a mind game with Chase that leads to a bizarre relationship.
I have noticed that Bacon seems to gravitate to these psychotic roles and tends to snuggle into them a little too well. Is this a direct peek into his own personal psyche or is he just that darn good of an actor? From his role of Henri Young in Murder in the First to his role as Ray Duquette in Wild Things, Bacon always tip-toes through the mental jungles of his characters.
Oldman, however, seems to play Bacon's direct opposite, while at the same time playing his mind games as well. In this film he gives a powerful performance as the smug, well heeled attorney with just a tad of conscience, much like his role in Bram Stroker's Dracula, even as an evil entity he still has the morals of a decent person.
While director Martin Campbell tries his best to make this movie a clenching thriller, much of the dialogue is somewhat weak and cliched. Some scenes seem disjointed or entirely unnecessary, as if he were simply filling time and space.
Even with these few faults, Criminal Law is a good watch with enough suspense and thrills to keep you interested for its' 1-1/2 hour running time.
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Susi Dawson (SusiDee34)
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A young lawyer and his client, accused of murder, begin a game of cat-and-mouse as the client begins to draw the lawyer into his psychotic world. The lawyer teams with a roommate of one victim to search for clues that will link the client to the murders. In their search, they discover the shocking truth of the crimes.