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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pyschological Thriller That Works
Nicholas Easter is a complicated man. Played by John Cusack, as the viewer you will get the wrong impression of the man, that is the intention.

The first thing you will be surprised at is the lengths at which Gene Hackman will go to secure "his" verdict, or the verdict that is required for his clients. Dustin Hoffman is the prosecuting lawyer, and together with...
Published on 10 May 2007 by Malcolm Clarke

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tobacco for Guns Trade Off
John Grisham should be livid over the way they butchered his book for an advertisement for gun safety. The original story of the tobacco industry is thrown right out in favor for a democratic approach to gun control that is bias to say the least. The only plus here is the performances, and I really do mean plus because if the performances were as bad as the film, I would...
Published on 24 Jun 2007 by Jay


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pyschological Thriller That Works, 10 May 2007
This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Nicholas Easter is a complicated man. Played by John Cusack, as the viewer you will get the wrong impression of the man, that is the intention.

The first thing you will be surprised at is the lengths at which Gene Hackman will go to secure "his" verdict, or the verdict that is required for his clients. Dustin Hoffman is the prosecuting lawyer, and together with his team, a cat and mouse game develops behind the scenes between Nick Easter, manipulating the jury, and Hackman, trying to continue controlling verdicts by clever jury selection and stealth tactics. Hackman will stop at nothing, he is big-time. Rachel Weisz plays the co-conspirator of Easter, and she is a great actress. You get a good feel for her vulnerability in the "big-time" against Hackman, which nicely sets up the twist in the plotline, and makes her character more real.

The jury scenes are interesting and each of the jurors characters are developed nicely so that when deliberations start you are almost second guessing what the characters are going to say.

This is a great film, with some great scenes between hollywood greats Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman. Yet another must for your collection, this is film that suits your tastes when you want to both watch and think about the movie, it is gripping and interesting from start to finish.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Runaway Performances!, 22 Sep 2008
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top pedigree, middling result., 9 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. Stephen Kennedy "skenn1701a" (Doha, Qatar) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Another John Grisham thriller is churned out as a star studded movie. It seems the books with the most thrills have been taken, as this is somewhat pedestrian, although still entertaining.

So what's it about? A big trial against the gun manufacturers is in progress, and both sides are anxious to have the jury on their side. The gun manufacturers hire Gene Hackman, representing the dark corporate side of jury manipulation. However, the apple-cart is upturned when it turns out that the jury is already being manipulated and may be for sale, engineered by someone on the jury and an accomplice (Weisz).

The collection of stars is fantastic - Hackman, Hoffman, Cusack, Weisz. In fact, as the interesting extras point out, Hackman and Hoffman have never shared screen time before. Seeing them in their one big screen moment together is the highlight of the movie. Hackman does not quite bring the same complexity to the role as he did to his other Grisham movie, `The Firm', but he lends real gravitas to his unscrupulous jury consultant. Hoffman is unusually restrained for the most part to play a convincing attorney, but it's Cusack once again who shows himself as a truly natural talent, morphing into just about any role he is given with ease. Here, the entertainment is in watching him manipulate the jury with some applied psychology, while his own motivation remains obscured until a time of his choosing.

Most of the movie is a bidding war and cat and mouse game, until the final denouement unveils the true motivation in a reasonably satisfying way. Along the way, the thriller elements seem shoehorned in, with the real joy in watching the process of choosing and manipulating the jury - the indictment of the system the movie is aiming at.

It's a solid enough story, and well told - but somehow you get the feeling the source material was never as cinematic as Grisham's previous movie adaptations. The cast and acting, especially by Hackman and Cusack, make this worthwhile. For legal thriller buffs, it won't disappoint, but it's not the real classic it might have been.

The extras where Hackman and Hoffman chat about their on screen scene together and their long friendship, is probably the most interesting thing on the disc.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Trials are too important to be left up to juries.", 18 Nov 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
From its stunning opening scenes, in which a family celebrates the birthday of their five-year-old son, immediately followed by the workplace shooting of the father and ten co-workers, director Gary Fleder manipulates the viewer's perceptions and keeps the suspense high. When attorney Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) represents the wife of the victim in a suit against the gun manufacturer two years later, he comes up against Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman), a jury consultant hired by Vicksburg Firearms Company to give them a sympathetic jury. One member of the jury pool, Nicholas Easter (John Cusack) may hold the key to the outcome, but whether he is acting honorably or is himself a tool of special interests is not clear at the outset.
Based on John Grisham's novel of the same name, the screenplay by Brian Koppelman, David Levein, Rick Cleveland, and Matthew Chapman focuses on the issue of jury consultants, including their secret rooms to process photographs and information about jury members, detectives and hired thugs who gather incriminating personal data for them ("Everyone has a secret they don't want you to find"), surreptitious break-ins, and blackmail used against jurors. Hackman is unscrupulous as the pawn of the gun manufacturer, Hoffman is earnest but far less forceful as plaintiff's attorney, and Cusack is a mystery man whose goal on the jury is not quite clear until late in the film. A supporting cast including Rachel Weisz as Cusack's girl friend/co-conspirator Marlee is effective in maintaining the suspense and keeping the motivation of Easter and herself a mystery.
Anyone who has been on a jury will find the film lacking realism regarding jury procedure and regulations--these jurors are far more casual about this murder case than is plausible, and the public's access to them and to the trial attorneys is unrealistic. The fact that the viewer still maintains high interest in the film despite these problems, however, attests to the strength of the acting and the effectiveness of the writing in getting the viewer to "suspend disbelief." The many scenes filmed in half-light by cinematographer Robert Elswit help increase the tension and promote suspense. Somewhat cynical in its depiction of the jury system and the ability of jury consultants to manipulate outcomes, the film features crosses and doublecrosses, evil men working to subvert justice (on commission), and blatant attempts to buy the jury. Sensational, exciting, and filled with action scenes, this is a film with little subtlety but good entertainment value. Mary Whipple
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gene Hackman gives a great performance, 14 April 2005
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Runaway Jury is a suspenseful behind-the-scenes drama about high stakes jury tampering. Set in New Orleans, it deals with a multi-million dollar lawsuit against gun manufacturers, brought by a widow whose husband was shot to death. The gun cartel hires jury consultant Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman) to guarantee they don't lose the case. Fitch knows what he's doing: He has a crack team of researchers, spies, and techies analyzing the jurors' lives for potential black-mailing and worse. Enter reluctant Juror #9 (John Cusack) and his mysterious girlfriend (Rachel Weiss) and the action really takes off.
Gene Hackman is superb as the ruthless Fitch. He is utterly convincing as a powerful and sophisticated villain we love to hate. On the other hand, Dustin Hoffman's performance as the prosecuting attorney is weak and forgettable. John Cusack has a chronically sleepy-eyed expression and, while satisfactory, could have been replaced by a number of other actors. Rachel Weiss is excellent as Cusack's tough co-conspirator. The outstanding direction by Gary Fleder pulls all the action together and makes it a winning film.
What I like most about the film was the constant level of suspense. A movie about jury manipulation didn't sound interesting to me until I saw it, and then I found it to be very exciting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A psychological thriller that leave one wondering, 15 Nov 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
In newspapers today, details of a trial beginning at the Old Bailey with the selection of twelve jurors from a group of twenty-four, is front page news, as it will be for weeks to come. This film, set in America, where the legal system (and almost everything else) is different, leaves one wondering whether Blind Justice atop the Bailey's dome has occasionally peeked. I jest, of course - it is only a film and the recent television series "The Jury" (November 2011) renewed all our faith in the jury system. "I had rather... haue his twelve Godvathers, good men and true, contemne him to the Gallowes." Thomas Randolph (1635)

In this 2004 film, the complicated Nicholas Easter, played by John Cusack, gives the viewer (intentionally) the wrong impression in this taut, psychologically engaging thriller and, just when viewers think they have the story by the tale, another twist emerges.

For many years, based on solid experience, I have accepted that films starring Dustin Hoffman or Gene Hackman will be great films. To have both of them pitted against each other in the same film, makes me doubly certain and I was not wrong.

Without giving anything away, parties on both sides need to secure the right verdict in this trial and both will go to great lengths so to do; although it stretches belief on occasions, it is a film and "suspension of disbelief" is what they are all about. The DVD has transferred a great film to make it available to everyone at a basic price and, when the plot takes one of its turns, viewers can always re-wind!

Recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done but a fairy tale ending, 16 Dec 2010
By 
This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
John Grisham is a pretty pungent thriller writer but in this case he wrote a beautiful fairy tale. At least the ending is a fairy tale.

But the object is not the ending. The object is to expose the gun business as what it is a death-monger. Second amendment or no second amendment, that's not the real stake of the gun industry. Their stake is to use the constitution to make as much money as possible without considering the number of collateral or non-collateral victims the use of the guns they sell may cause. And what's more they cannot be attacked the way the tobacco industry was because no one can pretend the gun industry is lying about the real effect of guns. Their real effect is to kill other people than those who use them and there is no lying on the merchandise either: it does just what they promise.

So they are untouchable, except through justice, and eventually a popular jury: for once the justice of the people for the people by the people. But it takes a lot of effort and force to manage that against all those who believe in the sacred right for every American citizen to shoot someone who is offending them and of course then to regret the pain these deaths may cause to the survivors.

But here the film is not giving any kind of argument against the gun industry. It is just showing how that industry and their lawyers manage to make justice lean their way by harassing the members of the jury, by buying the witnesses of the defense, by intimidating anyone who is against them, or even by trying to buy an insider in the jury to deliver them the proper verdict. But it may all fail if...

And that's just the rub in that situation. There is so far no "if" about it. The gun industry will win any trial of the sort. Macdonald may lose a trial in the accusation of making people obese, just like the tobacco industry lost their trials one after the other, about lung cancer and other tobacco induced cancers. But it is impossible to imagine a jury bringing back a guilty verdict as long as the decision will have to be unanimous. There will always be a die-hard constitutionalist who will hang the jury to a non-decision.

But the film is well done and interesting and New Orleans is a beautiful city, especially before hurricane Katrina. You will recognize some squares, buildings and streets and you will even have some soft Cajun or Creole voodoo, and of course the streetcars, named desire or not. And that's why this film is slightly more than just one more plain court film or trial film or whatever having to deal with the blind lady, that is so blind that she does not see crimes and certainly not criminals. Apparently the second amendment is an obligation for her and it has to be the total freedom for anyone to carry guns and use them for self defense, or at least what they call self defense, or to kill a caribou like Ms. Palin.

Apparently she is not that keen on reading the first amendment too much that protects the freedom of expression, speech and the press, and any Wikileaks becomes a public enemy number 1 as soon as it touches the family jewels of the federal crown of the United States. It is true it is a lot easier than during the Vietnam war to get secret documents with the Internet today. No more photocopies, man, actually no more hard copies, man.

Try to understand what's wrong with this world. This film answers a little bit. What is wrong with this world is that people are afraid of the end of the world, of the snow that is falling like hell in Europe right now, of the possible loss of what they have not earned since it was the product of financial speculations, like the thirteenth and fourteenth months of salary in Greece. We will lose a lot of things if we do not work hard to produce more, because we will have to share every single cent we make with those we have exploited for millennia and who want to have a good share of the cake today: China, India, Brazil, Latin America, Africa, Central America and many others.

So maybe we should start thinking that in a dangerous world the second amendment is not the solution, but the first amendment might very well be. And the countries that are emerging in this world today do not need American weapons to succeed. They just need good economic management, good economic lawyers and the steady patience of working like hell to achieve their aim, and God knows they are close to it.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Film, 26 April 2007
This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
This is a John Grisham novel that seems to have translated to film well. I have not read the book and did not know it was Grisham until after I had watched it. A good cast all giving excellent performances. I don't know how much jury tampering goes on (I'm sure it DOES go on)and whether it goes on to this extent but in the films case it is for the right reasons and as they say revenge is sweet. It is a good thriller the dialogue is sharp and the storyline just about stays whithin the bounds of beleivable! Above all it is entertaining and holds your attention. you get involved with the characters and you root for the good guys and hope the bad guys get what they deserve. Nuff said!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to buy a jury ..., 20 Jan 2007
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
This is an exciting and entertaining thriller, which has been marketed as an expose of jury tampering. However, the storyline also has a very strong position on the manufacture and sale of guns.

The story is underpinned by the assumption that everyone associated with the firearms industry is totally corrupt and evil, and that all those involved at any stage of assembly or distribution in supplying a weapon to any murderer are as much to blame for his actions as he is. If you strongly disagree with that opinion, then unless you can suspend your views while watching the film you will not enjoy it.

Like most Brits I am considerably more sympathetic to gun control than polls suggest the average American is, but I still had to think myself into a harder line anti-gun position than I actually hold in order to enjoy "Runaway Jury". Ironically however, this will probably be a problem for fewer people on this side of the Atlantic than in the country where the film was made.

Most people will find it a gripping story. The film begins with the father of a little boy celebrating his son's sixth birthday before going to work, where he is shot dead when a recently sacked colleague returns to his former office with an assault rifle and kills a large number of his former co-workers before turning the gun on himself. Then the film jumps on two years to jury selection in the case which the widow is bringing against the manufacturer of the weapon with which her husband was murdered.

Dustin Hoffman plays the local lawyer who represents the widow: he is assisted by a big-city expert on jury selection who joins the team for 30% of his usual fee because of his opposition to firearms. On the other side, Gene Hackman plays Rankin Fitch, a ruthless and unscrupulous expert on jury selection (and jury tampering) who is retained by the arms industry.

John Cusack plays Nick Easter, a member of the jury who with his girlfriend Marlie (Rachel Weisz) appears to be conspiring to sell the verdict to the highest bidder. But is that really what they are doing? And to what length will the arms industry go to get the result they want?

Most of the acting is first rate, especially by Hoffman, Hackman, Cusack, and Weisz. The tension of the story develops well, and the twist with which the film ends is very clever.

If you like thrillers and good acting, and either take the view that guns should be banned or can put any alternative opinion aside for 122 minutes, you will almost certainly enjoy this film. If you have a strong view in the other direction you should probably give it a miss.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Class movie!, 12 Mar 2004
By 
Having read all of John Grisham's novels, I have been disappointed by almost all of the movies that have been made from his books. Runaway Jury is my personal favourite Grisham novel, and when I awaited the movie I was very skeptical indeed. Even more so when I heard that the movie would not base it's script on tobacco as in the book, but on guns instead.
However, I was left very impressed by the all-star cast that is assembled in this film. John Cusack fits the role of Juror Nicholas Easter perfectly, as does the outstanding Hackman as jury selection expert Rankin Fitch. Rachel Weisz does ok as Marlee, and Dustin Hoffman is a little weak as plaintiff lawyer Wendell Rohr. But the excellent directing and plush sets make this a nice bit of movie-making. Granted, it lacks the depth of the book, but we expect that when moving between mediums. The exchange of guns for tobacco even works, and takes us away from memories of the awful movie 'The Insider'.
All in all, this is an enjoyable, and an all-around well polished movie, which is worth watching for both Grisham and non-Grisham fans.
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Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004]
Runaway Jury [DVD] [2004] by Gary Fleder (DVD - 2004)
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