The Screen Room
A Time to Kill (1996)
I don’t know about you but just lately I’ve been finding it harder and harder to find films I want to watch.
I guess we’re just spoiled for choice these days because I often find myself scrolling through film after film with nothing really exciting me to the point of wanting to commit to it for two hours. Add to that the frustration of having to check multiple streaming services because every studio seems to have their own these days, and you have the situation my wife and I found ourselves in last night.
Thankfully after a few disagreements we decided on this forgotten classic.
A Time to Kill (1996)
If you haven’t seen it, it’s an emotional crime/drama/thriller directed by the late Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys, Falling Down).
It has an all star cast including Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction), Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Kevin Spacey (Seven), Oliver Platt (Chef), Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games), Patrick McGoohan (Braveheart), Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy), Charles S. Dutton (Alien 3) and Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys) among many others.
The film is based on the 1989 book of the same name by John Grisham.
This is what it’s about according to the internet:
“In Clanton, Mississippi, a fearless young lawyer (McConaughey) and his assistant defend a black man (Jackson) accused of murdering two white men who raped his ten-year-old daughter, inciting violent retribution and revenge from the Ku Klux Klan.”
I actually went to see this movie at the cinema all those years ago.
It was the first thing I ever saw Matthew McConaughey in, and now I think about it, it was one of the first films I saw Samuel L. Jackson in too (Coming to America and Jurassic Park being the first).
What I find bonkers is that it was directed by the same guy who also directed Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997). In fact, Joel Schumacher (rest his soul) made this film in between making those two.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Batman Forever. Tommy Lee Jones may have been grossly miscast as Two Face but, it’s a fun film and I enjoy it now mostly for Jim Carrey’s performance and for nostalgic reasons. Batman & Robin on the other hand…well, the less said about that the better.
I’ve digressed, but what I’m basically saying is that it blows my mind to think that the same director who made such great films as The Lost Boys, Falling Down and this one, somehow also made the atrocity that is Batman & Robin (I’m sure some of you out there must like it and that’s cool).
Anyway, this is a great movie!
There are a few films that deal with race issues that I particularly like. Mississippi Burning (1988), Green Book (2018) and Hidden Figures (2016) are some of my favourites and all offer an eye-opening look at how disgusting we can, and have been as human beings in terms of white on black racism.
This movie is particularly hard hitting because it deals with the physical assault and rape of a 10 year old girl.
Maybe it’s because I’m older now and have step-kids (and grandkids) of my own, but I found myself more affected by it this time round than previously before. There are some distressing scenes as you’d expect from a story like this and you can’t help but feel emotional and even angry watching the events as they unfold.
The cast is excellent if not somewhat interesting, and watching the movie last night it occurred to me that most of the actors (who are now all big stars in their own right) were, for the most part in the early days of their careers at the time. It actually added to my enjoyment of it.
Everyone gives a strong performance, especially Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey (in the final courtroom scene especially), but a lot of credit has to go to the likes of Kiefer Sutherland and Doug Hutchison (The Green Mile) for being totally convincing as the despicable racists they portray - When a film can make you hate a character, or even an actor for that matter, I think it’s done a pretty good job selling the story.
If you like an impactful, emotional and well acted courtroom drama that has hints of A Few Good Men (1992), Mississippi Burning (1988) and (to an extent) Law Abiding Citizen (2009) I recommend you check this out.
It’s a real throwback to the decent movies they used to make back in the 90s.
You can find it streaming on Disney+.
Seen it? Let me know what you think.👇