|Runaway Jury (2003)
Starring: John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Piven, Bruce Davison
Director: Gary Fleder
After his last few book-to-film adaptations have failed miserably, megastar courtroom novelist John Grisham has returned for another try at box office success with his fast-paced thriller "Runaway Jury," complete with an A-list cast and a killer plot full of enough double-crosses to last you the year.
Two years after an office-building massacre left 11 workers dead and many others critically wounded, the widow of one of the victims has taken the manufacturer of the murderer's gun to court in a ruse to cripple the arrogant gun companies and seek justice for the death of her husband. But is it really up to the jury to make this decision?
The plaintiff's lawyer Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) seems to think so. In fact, Rohr loves his chances of winning the case until he catches wind of Rankin Fitch's (Gene Hackman) involvement with the defense council, a courtroom mercenary hired to go the extra yard in order to solidify the verdict desired, using surveillance and blackmail to turn the jury members in his favor.
Rachel Weisz enters the action as Marlee, an independent grifter who, for a hefty price, offers both sides her ability to alter the outcome of the jury with the help of an inside juror, Nick Easter (John Cusack), whose own motives are never fully revealed.
"Runaway Jury" makes up for its merely adequate script with an extraordinary and eclectic cast that works together in presenting a remarkable courtroom thriller with plenty of twists and turns. Dustin Hoffman, hot off his eccentric beat in "Confidence," and Gene Hackman both deliver impressive veteran performances that unfortunately make Cusack's work seem dim and insignificant.
In a Hollywood where bad is better, "Runaway Jury" replaces the original Grisham scenario revolving around the tobacco industry with a social debate on gun manufacturers. While likely too collectively suggestive for some, "Runaway Jury" is a sharp and stylish merry-go-round of "who's who" that is worth checking out.