“ Genre: Crime & Thriller - Thriller / Theatrical Release: 1995 / Director: Arne Glimcher / Actors: Sean Connery, Laurence Fishburne ... / DVD released 24 January, 2000 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: Dubbed, PAL, Widescreen „
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The film Just Cause is about a man called Bobby Earl who is on death row for murdering a young girl. His family contact a retired lawyer called Paul Armstrong and ask him to look into the case for them. He is now working as a professor and has strong views on the abolishment of capital punishment but he is reluctant to take on the job at first. After talking it over with his wife she encourages him to take a look at the case.
Paul finds disturbing things about the police when they first arrested Bobby Earl and after speaking to another prisoner on death row called Blair Sullivan, he is convinced of Bobby's innocence.
The key actors in the film are -
Sean Connery - Paul Armstrong
Laurence Fishburne - Sheriff Brown
Kate Capshaw - Laurie Armstrong
Blair Underwood - Bobby Earl
Ed Harris - Blair Sullivan
Sean Connery was good in his part as the law professor and you could totally believe in his character. The other person who I though put in a brilliant performance was Ed Harris who played the disturbing prisoner on death row with Bobby Earl, Blair Sullivan. Ed really acted this part well and you could really imagine he was this mad, deranged, murderer waiting for his day of execution to come.
I was a bit disappointed with this film, it seemed to me that there were two big build ups to tense moments but then the moments were over in a flash and I was left thinking they could have strung it out a bit longer. The scenery in some of the shots were gorgeous though when they were in the swamps and there was one bit with a crocodile that made me jump out of my chair but I wont tell you when it happens.
The special features on the dvd were just the different languages and subtitles.
The film lasts for 98 minutes and was directed by Arne Glimcher. The story is taken from a novel by John Katzenbach, I think I would like to read the novel to see if he manages to string out the main bits of the story a bit longer.
The film is rated an 18 in the uk.
The tag line to this film is Buried deep in the Florida Everglades is a secret that can save an innocent man or let a killer kill again. Now, as someone who really enjoys a good thriller, this looked like it would be just up my street. I duly paid a few pounds for it from Ebay, (which is why I am only reviewing it now, when it is nearly 10 years old), and began to watch with baited breath.
We are quickly introduced to Harvard teacher, Paul Armstrong, played by the unmistakeable Sean Connery. He is taking part in a talk/debate about the rights and wrongs of capital punishment. He is not getting it all his own way, and when victims rights are raised, he ends up coming off second best. A woman has been watching Armstrongs debate, and it is immediately clear that her motive is not to hear him speak. She approaches him and asks him to help her get her grandson off Death Row. Without much persuasion, and totally against the grain (as he has not been in a courtroom as lawyer for over two decades), he agrees to help, and is unaware of the atmosphere it will create in the local town.
Next, we are introduced to the Death Row inmate, Bobby Earl Ferguson, played by Blair Underwood, and it is at this point that the film runs into difficulty. Underwood is too much of a pretty boy to be considered for the part of a convicted child rapist, murderer and drug dealer. He lacks the aggression that is needed to make this character believeable. We are told that before his conviction, he had gone straight and become a successful student with a promising university place offered to him. This is believeable, but there would still be traces of the old bad boy, and this man is portayed as holier than Jesus at times! He is not a stranger to Armstrong, as we soon learn that Armstrongs wife Laurie prosecuted a case where Bobby was accused of child kidnap, but claimed he was set up. Small world eh?
Bobby Earls defence centres around the fact that he was beaten into giving a confession by a team of officers led by Officer Brown, played by the highly watchable Laurence Fishburne. Brown is adamant that at the end of the day, the right man is serving time, and refuses to consider than anything untoward has gone on, and it is from here I just began to dread the inevitable, predictable plot twists, and without giving anything away, my fears were to prove true.
There is the frankly unnecessary inclusion of serial killer Blair Sullivan, played by Ed Harris, who is held with Earl, and hints at having important information. The scriptwriters tried to be too clever, and it is a gamble which does not pay off, and I am left feeling that I am watching something which does not feel real, believable or most importantly, enjoyable.
Connery is very watchable, and takes on the limited role to the best of his ability, and in all honestly stops the film becoming a complete write off. I am a big fan of Fishburne, but I have to wonder if he actually read the script before accepting the role, as his stupid one liners overshadow what is actually a compelling visual performance. Harris is over the top, which is unusual for him, as I normally find he plays his characters just to the right level. Underwood is, as I have said, totally out of his depth with this role, and it shows from the first scene.
Director Arne Glimcher takes on a pretty big job considering his previous offering was the very mediocre Mambo Kings, which I switched off less than halfway through. I was surprised to see him tackling such a different genre, but hoped that his debut was a blip. In a way, I was right, and he does a better job, but this time he just plays it too safe and does not push the action as much as he could have, and ends up with nothing more than a copycat film made up of some of his favourite films!
The characters were just too predictable to be enjoyable, and there were many times that I found myself shaking my head with frustration at some of their action. I felt like I had seen it all before, just done much better. The people behind the film have relied on the fact that the film is full of so many bankable names, that they took their eye off the ball, and failed to give them a film to match their talents.
Just Cause is a film that relies on phony plot twists and steals openly from any other thriller that it can remember. If there was a drinking game requiring players to drink during every cinematic "homage", you'd be tanked after its first 45 minutes. Take one case of racial injustice, place it in an exotic, exquisitely photographed location (the Florida Everglades), and bring in an outsider, played by a bankable star, to save the day. Make sure nothing appears as it seems. Add a couple of plot twists, some over-the-top character actors (Ed Harris, shamelessly riffing on Hannibal Lecter), stir, and serve. The big name in this case is Sean Connery, who plays a Harvard law professor summoned to the swamps by an apparently innocent death row inmate (Blair Underwood), who swears he didn't rape and kill that 11-year-old girl. He says he confessed because maverick psycho-cop Tanny Brown (Laurence Fishburne) made him play a solo game of Russian roulette. He says his Serial-killer neighbour on death row (Harris) committed the crime. Connery buys it, the audience buys it, and how could they not? Director Arne Glimcher (who made the lacklustre Mambo Kings) coerces everyone with simplistic plot manipulations. Characters are given no depth, and the actors are pawns moved about like pieces on a Cluedo gameboard. -- Dave McCoy, Amazon.com