Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
on 23 November 2010
This is James Woods at his best. Never known to play against type, here Woods puts in a blistering performance as a cynical, burnt-out criminal defence lawyer, once a darling of the civil liberties camp, but now an amoral hack defending drug-dealing scumbags and other skells that no-one else will touch.
For reasons that are never made totally clear - something to do with the arrival from the DA's office of newly-qualified lawyer Robert Downey Jr, who is attached to him as a sort of apprentice - he elects to dig up an old case and try to overturn the watertight conviction of a Korean youth, convicted of murdering a drug dealer in plain view of about six thousand witnesses. The pair of them burrow and ferret away, re-interviewing old witnesses and case officers and gumshoeing around until...
I won't give any more of the plot away here. It doesn't sound any different, the way I've described it, to dozens of other legal procedurals, and in most ways it isn't. But what sets it apart is Woods' performance. The man has screen-presence in bucketloads and by half-way through has you sitting on the edge of your seat, willing him to succeed. At the end I felt I'd seen a top-notch thriller, and really that's all that matters where films like this are concerned. Next to him, Downey (who everyone seems to swoon over as the greatest screen actor since Hurd Hatfield) is as a feather on the breath of God. But then, when Woods is on form, so is everyone else (except Brian Dennehy - see "Best Seller").
Stay in and watch it.