I have no idea whether juries in the real world can be corrupted as this jury in the reel world is, but "Runaway Jury" is a riveting thriller that ought to capture the interest of the viewer from beginning to end, whether one buys into all the plot points or not.
Its success as a genre-film derives from the superlative cast, which is headed by Dustin Hoffman in the role of the honest but savvily down-to-earth attorney (with shabby suit and a carefully planted mustard dab on his tie) who is suing the big gun companies on behalf of the wife of a victim of a mass murder; and Gene Hackman as the ruthless (and expensively dressed) jury consultant, who does not give a fig for the victims, but merely wants to win big on behalf of his even bigger clients, no matter how low he has to stoop to do it. Hoffman and Hackman are supported ably by John Cusack and Rachel Weisz, both of whose characters have hidden agendas.
Although the film is worth watching for its suspense-factor alone, the performances of Hoffman and Hackman, who confront each other in the old-fashioned wood-paneled men's washroom of the court, lift "Runaway Jury" from the level of a conventional court-room thriller. This scene, which lasts several minutes, allows these two cinematic masters to pull out all the stops, as it were, of their craft. It is so rare nowadays to get a full-blown scene--more reminiscent of one in a stage play--between two actors of their calibre.
The settings of pre-Katrina New Orleans--the French Quarter and the Garden District--also contribute to the film's ambience.
Every once and a while, I sit down and watch the DVD of a film that I missed in the theatre the first time around. Many, I pass on to my friends; "Runaway Jury," I did not.