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Mixed or average reviews - based on 21 Critics What's this?

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7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 56 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: A murder trial brings a small Mississippi town's racial tensions to the flashpoint. Amid a frenzy of activist marches, Klan terror, media clamor and brutal riots, an unseasoned but idealistic young attorney mounts a stirring courtroom battle for justice. (Warner Bros.)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 21
  2. Negative: 4 out of 21
  1. If the film doesn't add up to a cogent legal argument, neither does it have trouble delivering 2 hours and 20 minutes' worth of sturdy, highly charged drama.
  2. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    As originated by Grisham and adapted by Akiva Goldsman, this is a story of elemental emotional and legal issues splashed across a large canvas, and director Joel Schumacher has done a solid job of keeping the many components in focus and balance.
  3. 75
    A Time to Kill, based on the first novel by John Grisham, is a skillfully constructed morality play that pushes all the right buttons and arrives at all the right conclusions.
  4. But the drama's attack on racism would be more persuasive if it rejected vigilante justice and recognized that hatred and violence of all kinds must be condemned if evils like bigotry are ever to be eradicated.
  5. Director Joel Schumacher and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman seem incapable of emphasizing what's important and relegating the rest to secondary status.
  6. Director Joel Schumacher has pulled no mawkish punches, wringing every drop of emotional potential from the script (adapted by screenwriter Akiva Goldsman from John Grisham's popular novel) down to the last manipulative glance and close-up. Call it A Time to Overkill.
  7. Reviewed by: Anthony Puccinelli
    10
    Like many artists today, Grisham and Schumacher exploit racial tension without understanding it.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. JaredB.
    Mar 31, 2008
    10
    I have seen almost every one of the movies that have been adapted from John Grishams novels. This is, by a longshot, the best one. Samuel L. I have seen almost every one of the movies that have been adapted from John Grishams novels. This is, by a longshot, the best one. Samuel L. Jackson plays Carl Lee, a black man whose daughter is brutally raped by two racist rednecks. As the rapists are being brought to their arraignment, Carl Lee steps in and shoots them both, killing them. Carl Lee is then arrested and charged with murder. He picks Jake Brigance, brilliantly played by Matthew McConaughey, to defend him. When Brigance agrees, he finds himself spending more time on the case, and less time on other things, like his family. This puts a major strain on his marriage. I also liked Sandra Bullock as Ellen Roark, a Boston Law student who badly wants to help. I can't reveal the end of the movie, because then, I'd spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it. If you havent yet seen this movie I strongly recommend it. Be warned, however, that, because of some violence and graphic descriptions of rape, this movie is NOT for very young children. Personally, I absolutely adored this film. Expand
  2. Jun 8, 2014
    8
    A Time to Kill proves to be one of the most riveting courtroom dramas of the 90's: the acting is great and the story is shocking, if not a bitA Time to Kill proves to be one of the most riveting courtroom dramas of the 90's: the acting is great and the story is shocking, if not a bit formulaic. However, it's the romanticism and relationship elements in the movie that bring it down a bit. Save it for the Phantom, Schumacher. Expand
  3. vbee
    Feb 13, 2007
    5
    This movie is too stupid to address the issues it's about.
  4. Nov 1, 2014
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Based on the good reviews, the strong cast, and the very complex starting situation I expected this to be a great movie, but it later becomes dumbed down and force fed to us, rather then helping the viewer explore the issues it tries to address. I was so disappointed by the cheesy, binarised american-dream ending, that I feel like I wasted 2.5 hours of my life listening to someone talking about racism in the intellectual level of "Racism is bad, OK?" The acting is amazing, and it is neatly executed piece of cinema, I just wished they used it tell a more meaningful story. Expand

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