Review Date: October 16, 2003
Director: Gary Fleder
Writer: Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Rick Cleveland, Matthew Chapman
Producers: Gary Fleder, Christopher Mankiewicz, Arnon Milchan
John Cusack as Nicholas
Gene Hackman as Fitch
Dustin Hoffman as Wendell
The actors also made the film that much more enjoyable with yet another relatable character played by the always reliable John Cusack, a righteous, yet not overdone lawyer played by Dusty Hoffman and the man of the hour, the Hack of the Man, the actor who can scare the shit out of me with his eyes tied behind his back and who delivers one of this film's most significant lines in "I don't give a shit", Gene Hackman, continuing to pad his resume with powerful, well-played characters that truly set him apart from the rest of the character actors out there. I used to admire Hackman as an aside in the old days, but I tell you, the more movies I see with this guy, the more I respect his overall body of work. Great actor! Director Gary Fleder should also be given some thumb-uppage for buzzing this film along at a breakneck pace, yet never really breezing over any details or dragging pertinent scenes past their deemed purpose (the one scene between Hackman and Hoffman didn't overwhelm me as much as the DeNiro/Pacino tete-a-tete did in HEAT, but was powerful nonetheless). The film also featured a couple of twists, although nothing that truly surprised me, as well as the obligatory "chase" sequences, which worked within the confines of the story. On the downside, considering the difficult job it would be to develop all 12 members of the jury, it's no surprise that certain characters got lost in this shuffle including the surprisingly underused Luis Guzman, the oddly cast Jeremy Piven and the one-line appearance of Ms. Flashdance herself, Jennifer Beals? If anyone could explain how this lady ended up in such a tiny role, please let me know (maybe we'll see more of her on the DVD?) The relationship between Rachel Weisz and Cusack's characters was also underdeveloped and left me feeling pretty "blah" about it by the end.
As thrillers go, I appreciated how everything came winding down here, with several plot points racing up against one another to the finish line, but as much as I was impressed by the conclusion, I will say that things did turn out a little too "perfect" for my taste. Having covered my few notches against the film, let it be said that RUNAWAY JURY is a very good movie with a fun cast, an inspiring story-line, an exhilarating pace and entertainment all around. I don't think anyone will uncover the solution to the gun control problem through this film, but at least it has its heart in the right place and provides for a solid two hours of escapism. "Trials are too important to be decided by juries"-- great line!