Runaway Jury

John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Bruce McGill

Directed by Gary Fleder
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 2
Community: star rating
5 2 0
October 17, 2003

In the film version of John Grisham's 1996 best seller, gun manufacturers are sued for liability after a shooting spree. Never mind that Grisham's book took on tobacco, not guns. This is Hollywood, which is both the blessing and the curse of this enter- taining but skin-deep potboiler. The movie, shot on location in New Orleans, is as colorful as hell. But you start longing for a gray area. hile Elephant sees the complexity behind the issue of gun violence, Runaway Jury offers only a stacked deck. In this corner, Gene Hackman as Rankin Fitch, the killer jury consultant hired by uniformly creepy weapons hawks to make sure the verdict works in their favor. In the prosecution's corner is Dustin Hoffman as Wendall Rohr, as unlikely a character as you'll find these days: a lawyer with principles. Wendall may stain his tie to look like a good ol' boy in court, but his heart is in the right place. It's astounding to me that it took four screenwriters to craft roles for two of the best actors of their generation, and all they came up with is a dimension-free hero and a snarky villain. Still, Hackman and Hoffman, old pals in their first film together, make a lively business of their one scene together — in a toilet, no less.

he rest you can flush. Director Gary Fleder (Don't Say a Word) fares best showing the technology used to choose, spy on and manipulate jurors. But the mystery involving juror Nick Easter (the always reliable John Cusack) and his girlfriend, Marlee (Rachel Weisz; is there a throatier, sexier voice in movies?), comes off as just another propaganda trick. Runaway Jury doesn't have the guts for a real debate. Too bad. It robs the film of something essential: a point.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »