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50

Mixed or average reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 28 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A New Orleans law student finds herself embroiled in a terrifying web of intrigue extending to the highest levels of government after she writes a speculative legal brief exposing the activities of a powerful oil magnate. (Warner Bros.)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    100
    Tilling some of the same conspiracy turf he explored in "All the President's Men," Pakula has improved on Grisham's book by excising much of the detritus, crafting a taut, intelligent thriller that succeeds on almost every level.
  2. 75
    By casting attractive stars in the leads, by finding the right visual look, by underlining the action with brooding, ominously sad music, a good director can create the illusion of meaning even when nothing's there.
  3. The story, neatly compressed, unfolds in dependable and photogenic ways. And it is coaxed along by Mr. Pakula's considerable skills as a brisk, methodical film maker.
  4. Reviewed by: Staff(not credited)
    50
    Grisham's characters are rudimentary, and both Roberts and Washington are stiff and over-earnest.
  5. So it is a surprise to say that the biggest mystery this legal thriller presents is how a film based on a novel by John Grisham, starring the bankable duo of [Julia Roberts Darby Shaw] and [Denzel Washington Gray Grantham] and written and directed by veteran Alan J. Pakula can end up more of a fizzle than an explosion. [17 Dec 1993 Pg. F1]
  6. Pakula's screenplay looks to bulldoze a clear path through the narrative thickets, but this stuff is impenetrable - meant to be complicated, it's just confusing.
  7. A brightly wrapped, ketchup-drenched mush-burger, it slides down the Zeitgeist esophagus like a slippery McPelican. You pay, you swallow, you drive home. You're left with nothing except, possibly, heartburn.

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 1 out of 2
  1. Mar 9, 2014
    8
    A very well-executed and suspenseful political thriller, The Pelican Brief runs along the same lines as "Enemy of the State" and "All theA very well-executed and suspenseful political thriller, The Pelican Brief runs along the same lines as "Enemy of the State" and "All the President's Men" to create a great film. Expand
  2. JasonE.
    Apr 25, 2006
    2
    A real snoozer, interrupted by a few laughs at the ludicrous plot and dialogue. It goes on forever, and then, when it absolutely has to be A real snoozer, interrupted by a few laughs at the ludicrous plot and dialogue. It goes on forever, and then, when it absolutely has to be OVER, the thing comes back to life with a saccharine epilogue. Big stars, and a (formerly) expert director, in the service of dreck. Collapse

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