“ Genre: Drama / Studio: Warner Home Video / Release Date: 1996 / Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt „
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This film is utterly superb however if you especially have children and a daughter it will pull on your heart strings chronically and you are more than likely to cry!
The story as a basic synopsis is about a teenage girl who gets raped and the father, all of whom are black, goes to seek revenge and kills his daughters rapists. He is then held up in court to assess whether he should go down for their murder.
The story involves the ku klux Klan and the political and social difficulties that racism brings in America.
It is acutely sad yet with a fantastic cast and also justice does prevail! There are however moments when you simply sit, listen and weep for it is so shocking. One particular prevalent moment in the court room the lawyer talks of the brutality of the rape and knowing it was with a child it makes you think about life, your children and the depth of hatred that society in racism can bring. A true film for thinking and acknowledging life in certain areas of the world.
Joel Schumacher's Batman And Robin, uniformly condemned as not only the worst Batman film by a long shot, but one of the very worst films of any sort of all time, may well be a staggeringly hideous affair all round, but it is a masterpiece in comparison to the same director's unspeakably awful 1996 Grisham adaptation A Time To Kill.
A stupid, obnoxious, offensive and racist pot-boiler of the sort Grisham has made his fortune - and the fortunes of at least twenty-three generations of grandchildren - on the back of, A Time To Kill concerns the efforts of hotshot attorney Jake Tyler Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) to defend, with the assistance of Sandra Bullock's Ellen Roark and Donald Sutherland's drink-sodden old pro Lucien Wilbanks, Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), a man standing trial for the murder of the two hillbillies who abducted and raped his ten-year-old daughter.
Schumacher's film is, at best, confused. At worst, it is reprehensible, reactionary garbage. It is a film that tries to sell itself as an abolitionist rally-cry, yet has no problem granting the death penalty to the detestable thugs Hailey shoots. It wants to be seen as anti-racist, yet is inherently racist both in its equation of the NAACP with the KKK and its smug belief in the inability of black people to do anything without the help of a pretty young white man.
Its list of crimes is as long as any in Grisham's fiction to date. To the aforementioned, we might add its obvious ignorance regarding the manner in which hate groups such as the KKK operate (do they REALLY have forms to fill out with neat little Klansman logos on the top?), line after line of jaw-droppingly bad dialogue, a host of caricatures where characters should be...
And on and on and on.
A Time To Kill is a film that allows both audience and filmmakers to wallow in a sense of their own inherent goodness whilst massaging those most despicable and reactionary corners of the psyche. It allows one to spit at the death penalty whilst cheering such a sentence. It allows one to pump a fist in the face of racism whilst playing to racist ideas of white superiority and the untrustworthy nature of black organizations.
It is a ridiculous, abhorrent nothing of a picture, and one that I'd gladly take a thousand Mr Freeze's over.
A Time To Kill was the fourth of John Grisham's novels to be adapted for the screen. Directed by Joel Schumacher, who had also directed the screen adaptation of John Grisham's The Client in 1995, this 1996 film encompasses many issues including racism, politics and corruption in deep south America.
Young lawyer Jake Tyler Brigance finds himself defending Carl Lee Hailey, a father accused of the murder of two men who raped his daughter. Hailey's supposed murderous act and his trial sparks a resurgence of the local Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Assisted by the persevering Ellen Roark, Brigance attempts to defend his client against all the odds.
The Cast and Performances
Matthew McConaughey plays hotshot lawyer Brigance, and has enough charm and arrogance to pull of the role very well. Sandra Bullock is Roark, and the on screen chemistry between the two is phenomenal. Both actors on form. Samuel L Jackson performs an outstanding role as the harrowed father snapping and commiting a crime, while Kevin Spacey is the cool, white DA looking to pout another black man in prison!
Strong support comes from Donald Sutherland as a sort of mentor to Brigance, and his son Kiefer as a KKK member, but interestingly enough the two were never on set at the same time, filming completely different scenes to each other. Oliver Platt, Patrick McGoohan, Ashley Judd and Charles S Dutton also give strong roles.
While this is not my favourite of the John Grisham adaptations, it is the one I find the most harrowing and the one I remember the most. The strong messages of racial and political problems experienced brings home the fact that this sort of thing does happen, that there is immense corruption in the world. The harrowing nature of the film, where the rape of a minor is concerned, is a warning to those who are faint of heart or who find this type of subject matter something they steer clear of.
The whole ensemble of the film is well worked, with a powerful battle taking place and threats, both verbal and physical coming to all parties throughout the film. It is personal determination and belief that get the characters through this film.
I don't really have any criticism of the film as such. At times, the plot attempts some positive emotion, probably to give a balance to an otherwise negatively vibed film, but these positives do not work so well. I was a little bit uncomfortable at certain points of the film, and remained transfixed by the harrowing nature of it as opposed to the at times stuttering plotlines.
A harrowing tale well brought onto the screen.
I rate this film at 4 stars out of 5.
The DVD is available from amazon.co.uk for £3.97.
This review may also be posted on ciao.co.uk.
Thanks for reading.
This review is on the 1996 feature film a time to Kill, adapted from John Grisham's 1989 novel of the same name. Ill be honest like most people I actually didn't no the film was based on a book, however after watching the film I kind of felt obliged to read the book to see if it was any better than the film. I must applaud the book and the film because they both do justice to one another, they took such a relevant and strong topic and made their viewers and readers feel the emotion the characters in the film felt.
Now ive said a dozen times I have many films that I really consider to be in my list of all time greats and this one really should be included. It's a film that makes you think and act, its not action and its certainly not comedy, but if you really want a perspective of what Mississippi was like during the racial times, then this film does do some justice. We have several scenes which are brutal to say the least, the opening segment just gives you a sense that this film is the real deal; I praise Joel Schumacher who created such a brilliant film. He didn't care if it was going to be controversial; he just wanted the story to be told.
The film takes place in Mississippi, America during a time were racial tension between the White and African Americans was at its highest. We don't need a history lesson to no the racial abuse that was present during that period, and this film explores it in great detail. Anyway, two local men are driving along a side of the road, drinking bear and generally just acting aggressively. They stumble across a young 10 year old black girl named Tonya whom is walking home. Being the men they are rather than driving along, they stop and starting abusing the girl. They violently rape and beat Tonya, they try hanging the body, but because they are so intoxicated they fail and instead dump her in the local River, were she is still alive, which leads to her reporting the incident.
Due to the nature of this crime and the current racial tension between blacks and whites, Tonya's father Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) gets the help of a white lawyer Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) as he feels these men have every chance of being acquitted. Carl cannot bear to see these men go free for such a brutal act of violence on his daughter. He manages to find his hands on a M16 riffle, which he takes to the court house and uses it to shoot and kill both the men responsible for the rap of his daughter, whilst also accidentally shooting and injuring an officer. Carl is charged with double murder and Jake decides to defend him in court, with the help of an American Civil Liberties worker Ellen Roark (Sandra Bullock), however these two now they have a tough case as the man prosecuting Carl is a top notch lawyer Rufus Buckley (Kevin Spacey). The film explores the trial and the ramifications it has on both the white community and the black community.
Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson :)
I have always been a fan of Samuel he rally is an underrated actor, but this film truly bought out the best qualities of his acting. Jackson Plays Carl, a loving father and husband who one day find out his beloved daughter has been savagely raped and beaten by two white men. He takes the law into his own hands and kills the two men, and now faces the death penalty and or life in prison. I can totally relate to this character, and most people could to. Even though he broke the law, and whether you believe in the notion of an eye for an eye, Carl felt he had no option but to take the law into his own hands. He couldn't trust the justice system; its racially impartial views would mean these savage men would escape for such a cruel crime. During my sixth form years we actually had a debate about whether the character was justified in killing the town men. We have the against side that suggested that the law should have been able to do its job and an eye for an eye was not justifiable, however I was totally for this character doing what he did. It both an ethical and parental think for a father to seek justice if one of his children has been attacked.
What was really good about Carl was his lack of remorse; he really didn't fell apologetic for the two men he had killed. His character stood firm and believed what he did was justified and given the political situation he would never have got justice any other way.
Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey):
I likes the character of Jake because regardless of his beliefs, he was sure on one thing, justice must be served to these men. Jake decides to defend Carl and this takes a big toll on both his professional and personal life, his father in law who is a big man in the state is disappointed in what he is doing and many of his peers are against his support of Carl. His wife is torn between supporting his career and making her parents happy, she understands why Carl did what he did, but just wishes its was someone else representing Carl. They actually form a relationship during the film and this is evident with Jake trying his best to clear Carl's name. Jake also gets backlash from the KKK community, which is shown in the film when he and Ellen are attacked by the group, whom are trying to either kill them or send them a strong message of hate.
Ellen Roark (Sandra Bullock):
Ellen comes to help Jake with Carl's case, I suppose they have some sort of mutual respect for one another, and you can also get the impression that Jake is starting to fall in love with her, even though he is married. Like Jake, Ellen is also attacked by the KKK members, whom include Freddie Lee Cobb (Keifer Sutherland). I think her character is also mocked because of her gender; it wasn't common to see a female character in the law professional industry.
Rufus Buckley (Kevin Spacey)
Being the gifted actor he is, Spacey as a knack of playing some of the best roles in films. His role in this film is the prosecuting attorney trying to get a guilty verdict from the jurors. He's a tough, cold and very confident man, he believes the racial situation will help convict Carl and he exploits this. He knows in principle Carl was doing what every man would do, but because he was a black man he must be taught a lesson. The court could not look weak.
I really thought this film was powerful it did to Racial tension what Philadelphia did to gay and aids issues. It was defiantly a learning experience for the millions of people who watched it. It posed such a strong and realistic question, could you really convict this man of a crime which you would consider to be justifiable. Can the law really be taken into your own hands, or is it really that impossible that you would risk going to jail for life. I also like how it showed how even white people can be targeted by white people for supporting black people. It showed that not all the white people were racists in Mississippi and that some just wanted peace. Jake tries his best to help out Carl; the one moment that really stood out for me in the film was the closing arguments for Carl, when Jake asked the jurors how you would feel if this was your daughter, imagine this girl was "White". It was such a powerful and strong line, he closed any doubts these jurors may have had. He showed an emotional side and really made them think of their beloved loved ones.
I really would recommend watching this film, we still experience racial tension worldwide and this film just shows what it may have been like during that era. Their was actually abit of controversy in our school when a teacher showed this film to children under 15. She fully justified showing it, because she felt to really understand what the racial tension was like, they had to see it first hand in a fictional format.
Cast & Crew:
* Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) -- Defence attorney for Carl Lee Hailey
* Ellen Roark (Sandra Bullock) -- Law student working free for the defence
* Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) -- Defendant
* Rufus Buckley (Kevin Spacey) -- Prosecuting attorney
* Carla Brigance (Ashley Judd) -- Jake's wife
* Ozzie Walls (Charles S. Dutton) -- Canton town Sheriff
* Lucien Wilbanks (Donald Sutherland) -- Retired lawyer; Jake's mentor
* Freddie Lee Cobb (Kiefer Sutherland) -- KKK member; brother to one of the shooting victims
* Judge Omar Noose (Patrick McGoohan) -- Presiding judge
* Harry Rex Vonner (Oliver Platt) -- Attorney assisting Defence
* Ethel Twitty (Brenda Fricker) -- Secretary to Brigance
* Tonya Hailey (Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly) -- Carl's daughter
* Screenwriter: Akiva Goldsman; Director: Joel Schumacher; Composer: Elliot Goldenthal for soundtrack page see soundtrack page.
Run Time: 149 minutes
Release Date: 24th July 1996
After seeing this film twice, what I have noticed is how capivating the story is without being boring! The film is based around two revenge killings. It begins with the rape of a black 10 year old girl by two white racists/paedophiliac boys. The father, so enraged (as would any father) kills the two boys, and injures a police guard. It is set in the deep south, which already brings about connotations about religious, moral and racism issues. Matthew Macougnahay is excellent as the defending lawyer, and devoted father and husband. Samuel L. Jackson portrays the hurt father brilliantly, with emotion and realism shining through. I have found that this film educates and informs the viewers how racism can still exist in the Land of the free, when the notorius Klu Klux Klan are inroduced. Although this film is graphic, this adaptation from John Grisham, is very addictive and emotional. The audience are taken through the trial of the father, and are shown different viwepoints, and are manipulated to judge the situation, and how they would feel, if they were in the jury. The final verdict, is justifiable, and what most people would want! A thoroughly interesting film, with the odd moments of humour within an excellent cast of acting.
A Time to Kill is such a powerful film, it’s one of them films that really touch you and in many ways than one and opens your eyes to the problems of racism. It has an all star cast with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey and Mathew McConaughy. I have watched it twice now, and I am still moved by the ending. The film is about a father who kills two men who have raped his young daughter, so bad that her insides are wrecked. He goes and kills the culprits, knowing his actions. Some can say pre-mediated actions. The scene is set in a small court room in Mississippi with the court racially divided, but the black man is being defended by a white man, Matthew McConaughy is excellent, he plays the lawyer, his final speech is just brilliant. He looks like he’s losing the case, but he has to think away of getting the jury to forget the girl was black, and just think of the action the two men did. He has to remove the race factor, without giving away the ending what the lawyer does is very effective. I enjoyed watching this film, it’s moving and it’s also highlighting the fact that without racial integration we are lost. At the end of the film, when Samuel L Jackson goes to visit his lawyer, it’s a nice touch the kids playing together…….a way to the future. Although, the murder was wrong, the reasons were powerful for killing the two men. A really good film and if you haven’t watched it before then you should, it’s sad but also informative in a way, I just hope things never get that bad here. I know people say it’s only a film, but I’ve heard cases in news which are equally sad.
This is certainly a brilliant book by John Grisham and the movie adaptation is great as well (after the dissapointment of watching The Firm). I have watched this film a couple of times and still I end up with sore eyes in the end. Matthew McConnaughey leads an all star cast (including Samuel L Johnson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Ashley Judd and Donald Sutherland) in this film about the trial of a father whom after his child is raped and left for dead seeks revenge by killing the two culprits who did it. Of course the odds are heavily against him as the trial takes place in a small racially divided town in Missisippi. What more with a white lawyer defending a black murderer, mishaps are bound to happen, peoples hatred are set alight and you just have to stand up with what you believe in. The movie brings to life the horrible picture of what racism and hatred can do. In the end, you are left with the message that, no matter what colour of skin you have we are not different from one another at all.
By far the best adaption of John Grisham's novel, A Time to KIll stars Matthew McConaughey as a young Lawyer defending a black man (Samuel L.Jackson) for the murder of two white men arrested for raping his 10 year-old daughter. It is set in the deep south in a small Mississippi town, where the Ku Klux Klan still have influence. They want to see "justice" and belive Jackson should be executed for his actions. McConaughey has other ideas, and with the help of his aide (Sandra Bullock) he attempts, against the odds, to get Jackson off. An excellent supporting cast including Kevin Spacey, Ashley Judd, Oliver PLatt, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Fricker, Patrick McGoohan and Kiefer Sutherland make this a gripping thriller from start to finish.