22 May 2005 | The_Void
An entertaining spectacle with a nice comment on justice
Courtroom dramas are well known for providing thrilling films, and that is exactly what 'A Time to Kill' thrives on; entertainment value. It is clear that the film, in spite of having some very potent themes, puts most of it's focus on being entertaining and it's actually not a bad film for it. Sometimes, films that want to be entertaining and have themes fall down because they're too entertaining and the themes get left by the wayside; but A Time to Kill puts its cards on the table from the start, and it's always clear what this film wants to do with itself. The plot follows a man who, after his daughter is raped and almost murdered, decides to take the law into his own hands. However, this man is also a black man living in a white supremacy state, and so the film injects a racism theme into it's plot, which is always going to mean that it will have some sort of social commentary within it. However, that isn't the most interesting comment that the film wants to make; as that plaudit falls to the idea of justice, and exactly what justice is.
The film, based on a novel by crime writer John Grisham, presents an impossible situation to the viewer and central characters; what do you do when justice will prevail whatever the verdict? The viewer and the characters must then make a choice between the law and general morality, and it is there where the film draws it's most interesting plot point from. While, as mentioned, it's always clear that this movie is meant to entertain you; it's always nice to be given something to think about as well. A Time to Kill benefits immensely from an absolutely fabulous cast, which includes the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Kiefer Sutherland, his father Donald Sutherland, Ashley Judd, Chris Cooper and more, all of which are lead by Matthew McConaughey. It is the lead that most lets the film down, as although McConaughey can definitely act, he's not quite charismatic enough to deliver a lead performance in front of that cast. Still, the movie is definitely very decent and although you probably wont hurt your brain watching it, it will entertain you.