If this gives the impression that The Star Chamber is a contemplative movie, forget it. It's a social tract in the classic Hollywood style -- viscera first. The issues are laid out in the most hyperbolic fashion and resolved by sheer melodrama -- a wild chase, a race against the clock, a shoot-out. On these gut-level terms, The Star Chamber is utterly gripping. Supported by an excellent cast and very stylish cinematography, Hyams sustains the tension from start to finish, no matter how preposterous the plotting becomes. [15 Aug 1983, p.64]
It's a beautifully composed and tautly engineered production, a model of trim and attractive genre moviemaking. This movie looks marvelous. Hyams and his cinematographer, Richard Hannah, seem to be experimenting with some form of enhanced lighting that gives the color images extraordinary vividness, a very fine grain combined with a sharp, hard-edged focus that produces a far more expressive three-dimensional illusion than 3-D. The effect is especially breathtaking. [5 Aug 1983, p.C6]
Getting to this point in the film, there’s a pleasure in rediscovering intelligent dialog, ably provided by Hyams and Roderick Taylor. But the talk is haunted by concern that this intellectual morass cannot be solved within the confines of cinema.
The Star Chamber has the slippery feeling of a movie made with optional endings, and the narrative sag of pulled punches. You can tell it was meant to be a thoughtful action picture, a B-movie with smarts. But it's too slick, and ultimately it's too careful. [6 Aug 1983, p.7]
As a story, The Star Chamber is a better comedy than mystery thriller.
Even Yaphet Kotto's fine performance as the coldly objective homicide
detective, Harry Lowes, can't save the film from its inherent absurdity. [5 Aug 1983]