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Runaway Jury
(with 4 star performances by all)
Starring: Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Piven
Directed by: Gary Fleder
Rated: R
Based on: John Grisham's novel



I jogged from the car to the theater, my brow wet with perspiration, my fear of being too late to snag my coveted fifth row center seat consuming my mind."Why did I go left at that stupid light?" I thought.

What could make me this crazy you ask? Look at the cast dear reader! It's an actor sniffing addict's dream… and I didn't want to miss a single frame. Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Rachel Weiz and Jeremy Piven…um - YUM! Naturally the acting did not disappoint, but alas the film's all-too-often soapbox styled message hidden within a thriller/drama did.

It's based on corporate novelist extraordinaire John Grisham's book of the same name - so it's a smart and ultimately complex story. The snafu preventing true greatness for the film - even with these gigantic talents as its characters - is the film's need to preach and distinctly pick a side. The ending however is truly unexpected and delightfully delivered.

Story goes… video store clerk Nicholas Easter (John Cusack) has been summoned for jury duty. He's tried everything to get himself excused but ends up upon one of the most important gun trial cases in the history of the Right to Carry Arms amendment's history.

The wife of a murdered man is suing the gun manufacturing company for millions. If she wins the civil suits against gun manufacturers will be rampant and ruin the industry. Therefore they'll do almost anything to ensure they don't lose…

Enter a man who makes it a tad easier to get a jury to vote for your side. His name is Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman) and for him losing is not an option. He doesn't kill or threaten people though. He researches them - the would-be jurors - and "guides" the lawyers at the start of a trial in the selection process. His command unit looks like a wartime bunker with all the latest in surveillance and technology the client's money can buy. He studies the people, their lives, checks their beliefs, and basically knows before they know themselves, how they'll vote on a case.

This time another professional at jury "altering" confronts him. (Rachel Weisz) She's not interested in the out come she just wants money - and lots of it. She knows this case is worth billions and claims she can push the jury either way on the verdict and offering both Rankin and the woman's attorney Wendell Rohl (Dustin Hoffman) the same deal. Who ever pays up first wins the case. Simple pimple.

John CusackFrom über adorable yummsicle John Cusack I've come to expect more what with his recent brilliant script choosing of both Identity and Max

But then again my mum always says, "If you have nothing nice to say…blame the director." I do.

Rachel Weisz is just an amazing and versatile talent. And Hackman and Hoffman? This was almost too easy for the mega talent. Hackman's great as a soulless sleazstack and Hoffman is uncomfortably exact as a deceptively dim prosecutor. And I have a non-relenting crush on Jeremy Piven so I am biased - but smit vision aside, he's just wonderful as the guy who knows more then he lets you know he knows - kinda..

If you are a fan of any one of the principles you've got to see it - they are all pristinely invisible in their characters…Runaway Jury is just a tad melodramatic, opinionated (though I even agreed with its message) and telegraphed for my tastes.

Snack Recommendation: Johnny Cakes and Piven Pie.

 

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