Starring: John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and Rachel Weisz
Director: Gary Felder
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars
Rankin Fitch (Hackman) is THE jury consultant--a man who, with a large team of investigators and specialists behind him can deliver just about any verdict his corporate clients want him to deliver, by making sure that whatever jury they want seated is seated, and by giving their attorneys the best possible coaching on his to manipulate those jurors once the trial has started. Fitch will also do whatever it takes to never lose. However, when he is hired by a gun manufacturer to handle a wrongful death suit in brough in New Orleans by Wendell Rohr (Hoffman), Fitch finds himself challenged by a mysterious blackmailer (Weisz) who is manipulating the jury from outside of the courtroom, and a juror (Cusack) whose mundane surface during jury selection was a cover for the cypher that is his true nature.
"Runaway Jury" is a highly watchable and greatly entertaining courtroom drama/thriller/mystery film. The cast of wall-to-wall great actors--with special recognition going to Hackman--and the shifting perceptions of who and what the various characters are as the film unfolds will keep those who enjoy this kind of film watching each twist with great anticipation.
The film also features a Big Secret and a Big Revelation at its climax, which, unlike so many other thrillers of recent vintage, actually works, and this despite the fact that it's quite far fetched. This could be due to the fact that it's based on a John Grisham novel, but it could also be to the credit of a well-written script. Whatever the reason, I wish there were more filmmakers who could pull this sort of movie these days.
For more about John Grisham's books and the movies based on them, visit John Grisham Online.