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Runaway Jury (Widescreen Edition) (2003)

A movie directed by Gary Fleder

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Suspenseful film despite implausability

  • Jul 1, 2004
This film is another legal thriller based on A Grisham novel. It is full of plot twists and turns, related to the premise of Jury manipulation that is carried out in a highly unrealistic manner. That is the most significant flaw in this movie - that the whole scenario just couldn't happen, as anyone who has ever been called for jury duty would recognize. That said, the story is captivating and you can't tell where the plot is leading until the end unless you've read the novel. John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and Rachel Weisz lead a stellar cast in a story that plays on empathy for victims of gun violence. In my opinion, that is another flaw in the movie: that it caters to anti-gun interests by portraying a gun manufacturer as greedy, irresponsible, and callous. It seems a bit sad that someone would become so obsessed with seeking "justice" after the shooting of someone close to them that they would plot for years to hijack a jury to punish a gun manufacturer. In the context of the Runaway Jury story the manufacturer deserves consequences for their business practices, while in real life guns are often a focus of misplaced blame for social violence. Regardless of its flaws, this movie is well-executed and suspenseful, another solid cinematic presentation of a Grishman legal thriller.

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Jed Shlackman ()
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About this movie


Based on the bestseller by John Grisham,Runaway Juryis a slick thriller that's exciting enough to overcome the gaps in its plot. The ultimate target has been changed: Grisham's legal assault on the tobacco industry was switched to the hot-button issue of gun control (no doubt to avoid comparison toThe Insider) in a riveting exposé of jury-tampering. Gene Hackman plays the ultra-cynical, utterly unscrupulous pawn of the gun-makers, using an expert staff and advanced electronics to hand-pick a New Orleans jury that will return a favorable verdict; Dustin Hoffman (making his first screen appearance with real-life former roommate Hackman) defends the grieving widow of a gun-shooting victim with idealistic zeal, while maverick juror John Cusack and accomplice Rachel Weisz play both ends against the middle in a personal quest to hold gun-makers accountable. It's riveting stuff, even when it's obvious that Grisham and director Gary Fleder have glossed over any details that would unravel the plot's intricate design.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Gary Fleder
DVD Release Date: February 17, 2004
Runtime: 127 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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