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Runaway Jury

Trials are too important to be decided by juries. 

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Runaway Jury

A bereaved widow hires lawyer Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) to sue the gun company that made the weapon used to kill her husband in an office shooting where 11 people died. If this trial swings in her favour it would be followed by thousands of other such trials from the relatives of gun victims. Fearing this, various gun companies club together to hire Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman) who offers to sell them a verdict by cleverly manipulating the jury. Nicholas Easter (Cusack) happens to play juror number 9, but isn't all he first appears to be. Neither is his girlfriend Marlee (Weisz) who is also trying to play the jury game and offering to sell a verdict to both sides, but her motives are ambiguous.

Based on a John Grisham novel this film is a gripping story about three separate parties fighting for control over the opinions of some everyday people. Not all of the parties are as honest as they appear, and their methods differ as much as their motives.

The acting is probably the finest point of this film with its two Hollywood legends Hackman and Hoffman fighting against each other. Weisz is superb as a stealthy background character whose role is intentionally confusing at the beginning. Cusack is a mixture of confident showman and quiet consoler and this combination of personas ingeniously allows him to influence his fellow jurors. The directing keeps the pace fast, withholding a lot of information at first, which maintains interest throughout.

The Grisham novel was originally about the tobacco industry but the story was altered for this film because people started winning cases against tobacco companies quite regularly. This anti gun theme is probably the reason why Runaway Jury was so heavily slated in the U.S. If you're very pro-guns you might find this film more a piece of Hollywood propaganda than a good story. Runaway Jury is a tense twisting film that can be highly recommended for its acting alone, and the story is pretty good too.

Nicholas Grills

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Summer Term (35mm)
2003/2004 Summer Term (35mm)