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RUNAWAY JURY

A woman whose husband was killed in an office shootout sues the gun manufacturer, and at least one member of the jury has his own special reason for seeing that the verdict goes his way.

CAST: John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven, Jennifer Beals, Melora Walters, Bruce McGill, Nick Searcy, Bruce Davison, Bill Nunn, Nora Dunn, Luis Gusman, Orlando Jones, Joanna Going

DIRECTOR: Gary Fleder

"…a breezily entertaining courtroom thriller that again clarifies why Grisham sells so well. His novels elevate the ordinary Joe to hero and make everyday drudgery -- in this case, that despised civic obligation known as jury duty -- look like the most exciting, dangerous activity around. It's also, amazingly, the first time those giants Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman have co-starred. Their one big scene together in a courthouse washroom crackles." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

 

"Hackman is at his crusty, blustery, Grisham-y best in ‘Runaway Jury,’ a nifty courtroom thriller in which he plays the only thing worse than a lawyer -- a lawyer's consultant…He is voracious, a roaring maw of actorly focus and drive, and he is great fun to watch…As a courtly, morally unshakable defense attorney, Hoffman delivers a performance that, next to Hackman's, seems puny and mealy-mouthed." --Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

"The director, Gary Fleder, lacks subtlety and precision but grasps the power of paranoia. He enables viewers to smash through the wall of disbelief whenever implausible plot turns become obstacles…the picture captures a contemporary mood-blend of cynicism, anger and woefully disappointed idealism. ‘Runaway Jury’ may be just a classy potboiler, but Fleder spices up the stock and keeps it at full boil." --Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun

"This effective bamboozle of a thriller maintains its own tricky balance of junk and hope. It draws on controversial, timely issues concerning Second Amendment rights and kicks around a few arguments. Then it throws in romantic and familial curves, has a great time with the musky landscape of New Orleans, goes for emotional gratification over legal scholarship, and rolls credits before anyone can question the verdict…Hackman establishes the amoral ruthlessness of Fitch's coolly hideous modern business specialty with electrifying efficiency…and Hoffman, rising up to meet his old friend, confidently discards excess and actorly frills, coming up with a character who's singular and unpeggable -- a very human hero." --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"…entertaining but skin-deep potboiler. The movie, shot on location in New Orleans, is as colorful as hell. But you start longing for a gray area…‘Runaway Jury’ offers only a stacked deck…Still, Hackman and Hoffman, old pals in their first film together, make a lively business of their one scene together--in a toilet, no less.The rest you can flush." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"As in ‘The Firm,’ the schematic crassness of the narrative provides a group of actors with the opportunity to deliver some fine work. John Cusack gives one of his wiliest performances in some time… He subverts his protracted-adolescent cheekiness and pours the melted charm into something far bleaker…Still, you may end up wishing that the actors had found a less needlessly show-offy picture to practice their craft." --Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

"The movie hums along with a kind of sublime craftsmanship, fueled by the consistent performances of Hackman and Hoffman (in their first film together), the remarkable ease of John Cusack (the most relaxed and natural of actors since Robert Mitchum), and the juicy typecasting in the supporting roles…The movie's ending is underwhelming. There's a whole lot of explaining going on, as we discover everyone's hidden motives long after they've ceased to be relevant." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"The most deliciously absurd notion in ‘Runaway Jury,’ the fine new popcorn thriller based on the John Grisham novel, is this: that while you and I grudgingly perform our civic duty by responding to jury summonses and while away entire workdays on uncomfortable wooden benches, a secret army of surveillance experts is watching our every move…the closest cinematic approximation to a beach novel that money and skill can buy." --Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

"The picture is masterfully plotted, though a bit obvious in its writing, with dialogue that sometimes clunks and scenes supposedly dynamic and convincing that often fall short. Yet the movie is so entertaining and its world so sneaky and remarkable -- jury rooms, back alleys, offshore banks -- that it seems churlish to quibble. ‘Runaway Jury’ hooks the audience, and after 10 minutes there's no looking back." --Mick LaSalle, The San Francisco Chronicle

"In spite of its cheesy plot twists, thoroughly second-rate direction, and criminally wasted ensemble, ‘Runaway Jury’ adds up to a nice little gotcha! courtroom melodrama …Grisham's overriding message is unchanged: that the legal system is routinely manipulated (if not gutted) by mendacious corporations; and that the best hope for justice is for righteous individuals to learn even dirtier tricks than their better-funded adversaries." --David Edelstein, Slate Magazine

"Grisham is an expert at hooking the audience, and he fills the edges with legal details (like the tampering of the jury selection process shown here) that, realistic or not, are always fascinating. ‘Runaway Jury’ is an adequate, unremarkable piece of work, but as they say in the book world, you won't be able to put it down." --Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

"The well-oiled machinery of the courtroom thriller ‘Runaway Jury’ may slip a cog or two in terms of plausibility but, thanks to robust performances, slick pacing and a smart script that opens up the typically restrictive genre, the verdict comes down in its favor…Fleder keeps the story line taut and the tension rising, as a swirling camera spins drama from even the most static courtroom scenes…The payoff, when it comes, so thoroughly satisfies the desire for justice that it neutralizes the plot's nagging lack of believability." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"The story's ethical issues -- related to gun marketing, courtroom profiteering, and the probity of the jury system -- deserve far more serious treatment than they receive in this disappointing film, which culminates in a set of twists that are as hokey as they are surprising. After arousing high expectations, ‘Runaway Jury’ turns out to be a trial to sit through." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"Hackman, playing it gleefully amoral, walks away with the film, for what that's worth...which is a video rental for fans of the actors involved. Yes, that's video, not DVD--four bucks at Blockbuster is more than you ought to be paying." --Luke Y. Thompson, Dallas Observer