Runaway Jury (2003)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
My personal favorite.

As far as John Grisham movies and stories go, I think his first novel/movie, A Time to Kill is probably a solid example of who Grisham as a storyteller is. I think all around, it’s a wonderful story, and technically the best story of them all. On a personal level, it’s not quite my favorite story of his. For me, that’s without a doubt Runaway Jury. It’s Grisham’s newest feature film, so it uses modern technology as a benefit to the story, and it really works. The story is very, very well done. Oh…you’ll see. Check it out.

It’s the biggest case of the year. A public shooting in a business office that kills several people has made big news, and one of the victim’s wives has sued a gun company. A gun company. From a defense perspective, no one ever wins guns cases…but along comes Nick Easter, which changes everything. This seemingly normal guy is put into the jury pool, ending up as juror number nine. Once he’s inside, he begins doing these little things to control what the jury does, like randomly cite the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the courtroom. The idea is that he will sell a verdict to the highest bidder. The bidders being both the prosecution and defense.

If the story itself isn’t original, I don’t know what is. It’s original, and so unique that it’s hard not to check out. It’s like a very different and very cool version of 12 Angry Men. This movie focuses not so much on legal issues as it does ethics. Grisham often focuses on ethics in his stories, but this is probably the strongest movie based on ethics alone. It takes place in a court room, yes, but it shows just how much the heart rules the mind, which is ultimately how Nick Easter is able to persuade these people to do his bidding. It’s actually pretty funny sometimes, but other times it’s serious and really intelligent writing.

I’ve always been impressed with the casting of any John Grisham movie as well. Almost every time, his cast is made up with a lot of recognizable faces, like John Cusack, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, and of course the legendary Gene Hackman in his second to last movie. The man hasn’t acted in over a decade, and that’s a shame. Anyhow, Hackman is clearly a Grisham fan, acting in not one, not two, but three of his movie adaptations. Honestly, he’s a perfect choice as a universal Grisham character. I’ve actually read other books of Grisham’s where Hackman’s unforgettable face and voice show up in my mind. He’s perfect, and this is probably my favorite performance of his in Grisham projects.

What I like about this movie is that you can watch it for a number of reasons. You can watch it for the mystery, the suspense, the characters, the case itself…anything. Even after you’ve seen it and know the answer to the mystery, you still want to go back and watch it again because regardless of the mystery the movie is just so good. The story is so good and it never gets old because again, it’s original. You don’t get a lot of movies about juries, and the ones you do get aren’t like this. Also, other movies taking place in court include jury consultants, but most people don’t even know that’s what they are. They probably think, oh they’re more lawyers or something. This movie is a good example of what a jury consultant is. Yeah it goes a little overboard with Gene Hackman’s anti-Sherlock Holmes-like character and uber-technology room, but that’s just for entertainment purposes. It’s still a super fun movie.

The Good:

This is one of the most fun John Grisham movies to date. It’s serious, of course, but the way it plays out is fast-paced like an action film, but smartly-written like a good mystery. You’ll love it.

The Bad:

Not much to report here.

Memorable Quote:

Rankin Fitch: Everybody has a secret they don’t want you to find.

3 thoughts on “Runaway Jury (2003)

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