21 September 2004 | swellguynextdoor
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Decent but very flawed film that has so many points to it that it can't be categorize in simply good or bad.
The Good: Some of the performances are spectacular and deserving of a much better movie than this. Gene Hackman hasn't been this good in ages, and he's one of the few reasons that this movie is watchable. The next reason is Rachel Weisz, who is the only actor Hackman has had in quite some time that is his equal in performance and in acting prowess. She is so good in fact that she does almost steal the film from him and then some. The city of New Orleans is a fascinating setting for this film but wrong because it's not the original setting of the book.
The Bad: Dustin Hoffman is not really in the movie and is really a minor character in the whole story. Which is too bad because he's such a charismatic actor and deserves a much bigger role than what he had. The next problem is the whole spy versus spy angle that makes the whole film into a joke because no one would go that far to rig a jury, especially in a case that would have been thrown out of a real court with the facts that was presented in the film. Which leads to
The Ugly: The script is really bad. How bad you say? It took almost four writers to outline the story, which bare in mind does not follow the book at all. The dialog is great in places and bad in others, and the whole structure of the film is paper-thin which is easily to blow holes thru. The story runs out of gas in the half way point of the film and the ideas express seems more like a bias view of what the law should be than a realistic view of what the law really is. I think the biggest offence the movie makes is changing the text of the original novel and making about guns other than big tobacco. John Grisham's original novel was hugely entertaining and down right poignant in its views about justice. This film seems like it has not idea where it's at from time to time and lacks a coherent narrative to even try to explain the stuff that is going on right in front of you.
Even with the good points, the bad does out weight the good here. It's a decent film because of the acting of Rachel Weisz and Gene Hackman but they like the viewer are let down with a script that lacks conviction for the subject it covers and a real point of view that expresses the feelings of the reality of the gun issue.