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The Runaway Jury - US reaction



Compiled by: Jack Foley

IT boasts a cast to die for (almost as good as the ensemble assembled for Mystic River) and takes a John Grisham page-turner as its source, so it is pleasing to be able to report that The Runaway Jury - starring John Cusack, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman and Rachel Weisz - looks to have lived up to the potential shown in its premise.

Leading the wave of positive reviews from the States is the Hollywood Reporter, which observed that ‘the screenplay is credited to four writers, normally a signal of a misshapen mess, but what emerges here is taut storytelling where character leads to action and action leads back to character’.

While CNN described it as ‘the best big-screen adaptation of a John Grisham novel since The Firm’.

The Los Angeles Times hailed it for being ‘a smooth, comfortable ride all the way, with Hackman and Hoffman, of course, the ultimate in fine engineering’, while Filmcritic.com wrote that ‘Gary Fleder has definitely proven that he has a knack for helming taut, tightly wound thrillers, and Runaway Jury is his best work to date - one of the year’s best films. He paints a colorful array of fascinating characters against a canvas of explosively’.

 

The New York Times, meanwhile, felt that ‘John Cusack gives one of his wiliest performances in some time’, and Newsday felt that it ‘provides just enough nutritional content and exudes enough of a homecoming familiarity to make the indulgence seem worth the empty calories’.

Not everyone was as gushing, however, and there were some reservations expressed, as well as some negative comments.

Entertainment Weekly, for example, wrote that ‘although the twists are pulpy and the legal foundations feel wildly porous, Fleder, a practiced hand at TV-cop stuff and movie thrills, makes the film a faster, more agile bundle of entertainment than the book’.

And the Philadelphia Inquirer observed that ‘while I enjoyed Runaway Jury while watching it, its themes and performances didn't stay with me’.

More scathing, however, were One Guy’s Opinion, which wrote that ‘if an expert presentation is enough for you to forgive the utter absurdity of the melodramatic plot, assume your seat in the courtroom; otherwise, take the usual evasive action to avoid jury duty’; and USA Today, which opined that ‘watching a movie this impersonal play out for 127 minutes is like being sequestered in a dingy motel without a six-pack’.

But the Hollywood Report Card, meanwhile, felt that it delivered ‘taut suspense, keen twists and a smart, careful disclosure of the plot’.

And the final word goes to the Chicago Tribune, which concluded that ‘Fleder and his able cast deliver a brisk, entertaining story that, despite straining credulity at times, earns a positive verdict’.

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