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Criminal Law
DVD disk
07.18.2007 By: Jason Adams
Criminal Law order
Director:
Martin Campbell

Actors:
Gary Oldman
Kevin Bacon
Joe Don Baker

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A young, hotshot defense lawyer is successful in getting his wealthy client cleared of rape and murder charges, only to discover afterwards that the man not only committed the crime, but continues to be a serial killer.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The first time I really noticed Gary Oldman was in LEON, but it was his role as “urban” drug dealer Drexl Spivey in TRUE ROMANCE that made me want to immediately see every movie the man starred in, touched or looked at. 1988’s CRIMINAL LAW never registered on my radar, but the thought of Oldman as a sleazy criminal lawyer under physical and moral duress was an exciting prospect. And his performance here is remarkable, no surprise. It’s an interesting character—you always have to wonder about those guys who make a living defending obviously guilty scum—and Oldman handles the situation and the lawyer’s mental breakdown well.

Aside from its initial intriguing premise and Oldman-ness, CRIMINAL LAW is a fairly average thriller. It hits the expected spots of suspense and tension without straying from the cat and mouse formula, with the added bonus of a pretty decent ending. Director Martin Campbell (CASINO ROYALE, VERTICAL LIMIT) does a competent job behind the camera; nothing too shabby nor spectacular. Likewise, Kevin Bacon is adequate as the rich white kid moonlighting as Jack the Ripper. He’s effectively creepy, but once you find his true motivation behind the killings, he becomes a rather bland conventional villain.

I also wasn’t too clear on the film’s intentions. It starts with a famous quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, but CRIMINAL LAW is a thriller first, philosophical critique (a distant) second. I’m not saying I wanted moral commentary from this movie; however, when the filmmaker brings in a German philosopher whose name the average person can’t even pronounce, I kinda expect something more profound than the typical thriller. And if I was supposed to take away something, I missed it. While it slightly touches on themes of justice and crime and capital punishment, CRIMINAL LAW is no Dostoevsky.

It also sports one of the strangest sex-raquetball montages in recent memory.
THE EXTRAS
[…]
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
In CRIMINAL LAW, Kevin Bacon does not show his penis. That’s a plus. Otherwise, the film is a by-the-number 80s thriller with a good performance by the always reliable Gary Oldman. If you’re a ginormous fan of Oldman, you might consider renting it.

Extra Tidbit: Keeping up with his dreadlocks in TRUE ROMANCE, dual beehives in DRACULA, and the extreme combover from THE FIFTH ELEMENT, Gary Oldman sports a glorious mullet in CRIMINAL LAW.
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