A Case of Deadly Force is the story of a civil rights case brought by a former Boston police officer turned lawyer against his department. The movie is based upon a book by Lawrence O'Donnell, a Boston PO turned attorney, Regrettably comments on it were space.
One commentator, critical of the film, correctly observed that in a civil rights case, Attorney Lawrence O' Donnell (Richard Crenna) stood alone as a beacon of integrity in the courtroom against notorious liars and hypocrites when the former police officer daringly turned on his department in a wrongful death suit brought against former fellow officers on behalf of a bereaved black mother.
The critic is correct in saying that the Made For TV movie A Case of Deadly Force is a bit one sided in that the saintly innocence of the injured party might have been somewhat inflated. Many people involved with violent encounters with police have less than pristine backgrounds. Whether that justifies police action is another question.
My evaluation is that A Case of Deadly Force is favorable. Where the movie attains a degree of excellency, it lies in the deadly accuracy of the dilemma and heart ache faced by a lawyer in a civil suit against the police. Often advocating the rights of clients often with a checkered past, the lawyer stands alone facing a violent system with a united unprincipled opposition: The Blue Wall.
This made for TV movie vividly exemplifies the mischief a determined police department is capable of: violent beatings and arrests of members of Mr O'Donnell's family. All it takes is a wink and nod to bring the entire department down on a civil rights lawyer. And many judges go along with this.
This no feel - good Perry Mason story.
Richard Crenna delivers a bravura performance. If there is a short coming in the film, it is given Mr O'Donnell's experience as a police officer he did not anticipate the violence of the reprisal that his former friends were capable of.