Runaway Jury (2003) Poster

(2003)

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Interesting adaptation, quite different from Grisham's novel
jeannie-18 September 2004
This review is targeted at those who have read John Grisham's novel and might want to know how the movie compares to the book.

The largest and most controversial difference between the two is that while the trial in the book was about holding tobacco companies responsible for cigarette advertising, addiction, and lung cancer, the trial in the movie is a case of holding firearms companies responsible for encouraging guns to be sold to criminals. While the book centers around the law, as all Grisham novels do, the movie centers around gun control. Therefore, the movie can be quite political. Those who do not appreciate political statements in movies beware.

The movie spends a lot more time on Wendall Rohr and Rankin Fitch, the plantiff's lawyer and the defendant's jury consultant. While Rohr is a flat character hardly mentioned in the book, the movie characterizes him as a man who still possesses some sense of the ideal practice of law. Fitch, pitiable and even slightly likable in the book, is shown as an utterly malicious man in the movie. The members of the jury are definitely not shown much in the movie. We don't get to watch exactly how Nicholas Easter befriends each one individually, and we are told less about each jury member. The psychology that is in the book is largely absent from the movie and replaced with a few scenes of dramatic flair.

The casting of the movie was GREAT. When I heard there was a Runaway Jury movie, I immediately imagined John Cusack as Nicholas Easter. Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, and the actors who play members of the jury are almost as I pictured them as well! Because of this change in theme, the movie is much darker than the book. Extreme violence and arson make their way into jury manipulation. Fitch becomes a much more malevolent character. The ways in which members of the jury are bumped or released from jury duty are much darker than in the book. Little details that were altered to adapt to gun control instead of tobacco are interesting and appropriate. The movie is a different but well-done adaptation. Even if you don't enjoy the movie, it is interesting to compare it to the book.
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7/10
clever, well acted and entertaining
TheNorthernMonkee24 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS Hollywood loves adapting popular books. Whether it's classics, modern stories or the collective works of particular authors, films are forever being produced with adapted screenplays. One author who seems to be used a lot is intellectual writer John Grisham. Normally setting his stories in American courtrooms, his stories are often complex and twist based with strong resolutions. 'Runaway Jury' is no exception and in 2003, the film was turned into a feature film starring Gene Hackman and John Cusack. Well acted by everyone involved, it is an entertaining piece of work which leaves you thinking throughout before sticking on a conclusion you might well have predicted beforehand, but which you still enjoy seeing it reach.

In a landmark trial, a woman is taking the gun companies to court for compensation after a major family loss. Leading the defence for the gun companies is the constantly victorious Rankin Finch (Gene Hackman). A regular at fixing juries in his favour, Finch finds himself facing a challenge this time when a couple, one a jury member (John Cusack) and one working behind the scenes (Rachel Weisz) decide to make money out of the same skills Finch employs so successfully.

Whether Hackman, Cusack or Weisz, you don't see many moments in this film when the acting isn't superb. Regaining a form not seen for a fair few years, Hackman in particular is brilliant as a man who exploits the system for his own gain. He is closely challenged however by both Cusack and Weisz who give admirable performances in their respective roles.

The film as a whole is also incredibly clever. Leading you in multiple directions, the constant game of 'cat and mouse' is brilliantly played out with some noticeable surprises as well as some rather unexpected ones.

It's true that there are moments when the story drags slightly and you find yourself feeling a bit bored, but the majority of the time the story is fast flowing and incredibly entertaining.

Anyway, whatever your complaints about the script, the story is mostly entertaining and well acted. Led by a superb performance by Gene Hackman, when it's on a high the film is up there with the finest thrillers around in years. It's well worth watching, even if you normally can't stand this sort of film.
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7/10
His Own Hubris
bkoganbing25 February 2008
John Grisham's novel Runaway Jury is based on the simple proposition that hacking into the jury pool system is an easy matter. Nobody wants jury duty, people simply just do it because it's an obligation like paying taxes. Minimal safeguards are on that computer.

In New York State the rule is now ten years. I just got called in October, promptly and exactly ten years after I'd been called previously. You can't serve, in fact if you are called any time before 10 years prior to your last service, you have the clerks look it up and if you're correct, out you go. But if I said nothing, no one would be any the wiser. So maybe what happens in Runaway Jury might have some basis in fact.

Gene Hackman is more than just a jury consultant. Breaking all laws of privacy, he's on retainer from the gun manufacturer's lobby who are worried about a rash of lawsuits breaking out and somebody collecting on one. Whatever it takes to fix the jury, Hackman's up to it.

But there are a couple of people, one a juror played by John Cusack, one an outsider played by Rachel Weisz who seem to have a game plan all their own. It might just surprise you to find out just what it is.

All this revolves around a wrongful death suit filed by Joanna Going and her attorney Dustin Hoffman about the death of her husband, Dylan McDermott which is shown during a brief prologue. Never have the wheels of justice been so greased by so many different hands.

Nice performances all around in Runaway Jury. Like another author Edna Ferber, it's impossible to make a bad film out of a John Grisham work. Grisham writes so the average lay person can understand and his characters are flawed, but flawed in a way you care about them. See what drives Cusack and Weisz and you'll know what I mean.

Acting honors however go to Gene Hackman. Imagine the outlaw head in The Quick and the Dead running a jury consulting firm and you'll get the idea of what an amoral person Hackman is. It's his own hubris that takes him down though.

Good drama by a good cast, you can't go wrong with Runaway Jury.
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Awesome Performances by Hackman, Cusack, Hoffman & Weisz.
BigHardcoreRed4 December 2004
Not since Primal Fear have I seen a court room thriller that was really good. Given the actors, I suppose you can't really go wrong. Usually I can find some actor or actress that wasn't very good, bothered me in some way or was flat out horrible. This movie featured superb acting by all those involved. Even Jeremy Piven (who I can't help but picture as the Dean in Old School or his characters from PCU or Very Bad Things) delivered a respectable performance, and very different from the other movies mentioned.

Runaway Jury doesn't throw in a lot of needless plot twists and unexpected happenings just for the sake of throwing off or fooling the viewer. In fact, it pretty much goes in the direction you think it will, with only a couple of exceptions which are needed.

I'm usually the type that likes my movies to get it all done in around 90 minutes or so. Seems to me that most movies that go over 2 hours have a lot of needless "filler" material for no real reason, which, more often than not, results in slow, dragging scenes in the movie or just a boring movie altogether. This particular movie clocked in at just over 2 hours and used every minute wisely. Nothing boring and nothing seemed to drag on forever. I found the beginning with the jury selection particularly interesting. I thought the whole concept of knowing how to get exactly who you want on your jury, even before they actually show up to jury duty, was a little mind blowing. After seeing those scenes, I knew it was going to be a great movie. I highly recommend this movie, especially if you enjoyed movies like Primal Fear, although this is a completely different movie with different kinds of surprises.

Overall, Gene Hackman stole the show in this one and proves why he's been working in movies and television for over 40 years now. I give this 9 out of 10.
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8/10
One of the better Grisham-adaptations
rbverhoef11 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
'Runaway Jury' is one of the best movies based on a John Grisham novel. The best is still 'The Rainmaker', probably because Francis Ford Coppola was the director who could work with a perfect ensemble of actors. Other Grisham adaptations have had terrific ensembles as well. 'The Firm' (1993) starred Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Holly Hunter, 'A Time to Kill' did it with Samuel L. Jackson, Matthhew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Donald Dutherland, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Cooper, Oliver Platt and Ashley Judd, and 'The Rainmaker' had to do it with only Matt Damon, Danny DeVito, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Mickey Rourke, Mary Kay Place and Danny Glover.

Now here is 'Runaway Jury', starring John Cusack, Gene Hackman (in his third Grisham-movie), Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz, a courtroom thriller that has suspense, keeps our attention and knows how to surprise. The good thing is that the movie seems to have no real good guy or girl. Hackman is Rankin Fitch, a guy who spies on possible jurors to make sure he chooses the right jury for his employers. The way he does this make his the real bad guy. John Cusack is Nick Easter. He becomes a juror in a case that deals with guns and how their manufacturers are responsible for people getting killed. Fitch is on the side of the manufacturers, on the other side we have lawyer Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman). He represents a woman who wants to sue the gun-manufacturers because her husband was killed by one of their guns.

At first the movie seems to be a courtroom drama but then we learn that juror Nick Easter has his own agenda. He wanted to be in that jury for something and his girlfriend Marlee (Rachel Weisz) has a lot to do with that. Nick and Marlee want to give the verdict to the person, Fitch or Rohr, who is willing to give them the highest amount of money. Fitch is interested right away but tries to prevent this in a lot of ways, Rohr slowly realizes that he has to make an offer as well since Marlee and Nick are able to show that they really own the jury. To tell you too much could spoil things for you, so this is enough for the plot.

With real suspense this movie keeps our attention and makes us forget that at some times things are not very plausible. There were moments I could have asked questions but during the movie I was not thinking about them, only after it was finished I realized that certain events simply had to happen to keep the movie going. The way the movie just kept on going made sure we were not even able to think about possible flaws. It was interesting the entire time.

Director Gary Fleder ('Kiss the Girls', 'Don't Say a Word') has made his best thriller to date with the help of a nice story and some terrific performances. Cusack is able to do almost anything, Hoffman and Hackman are always reliable actors and sexy Weisz is perfect as the mysterious Marlee. Completely different from 'The Rainmaker', but almost as good as that one.
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10/10
A great ride
tazteamrpg26 July 2004
This was a movie that wasn't over-hyped, filled with talented actors and kept you watching all the way through. My rating is maybe a little generous but at the time just after watching it was one of most enjoyable movies I have watched for a long time, and I watch a lot (maybe too much ;) Hackman was flawless as usual as an actor and once again maintained his great screen presence. Hoffman really portrayed the idealistic lawyer character well. Weisz played the female lead with the right mix of the strong and vulnerable. And Cusack, well I consider him an intelligent actor. He looked once again intelligent, thoughtful in his acting. The plot twists were not overdone but did offer some slight surprises which were hinted at along the way if you payed attention. Overall I'd recommend this movie to anyone, especially those who take their movies seriously.
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Flimsy yet well acted.
bluewavetraveler10 October 2004
Well acted yet flimsy adaptation of the John Grisham novel lacks a well rounded script to carry itself but has an amazing cast that lifts this mediocre film past its problems and into respectability. The script has way too many loop holes in logic to even take what you are seeing seriously and the directing lacks a sharp narrative to get across what it's trying to say. The acting is the only major thing that this film excels on and with out it, this would have been a cable movie of the week at best. Gene Hackman is great as a jury consultant who would stop at nothing to win a case and Rachel Weisz is amazing as his adversary in and out of the courtroom. Dustin Hoffman is great as well but he is not in the movie as much as advertise and John Cusack is decent for the role he has. The biggest fault the movie does have is the fact that certain plot points disappear during the course of the film as well as characters. It's a great way to spend two hours of your time, especially with the great performances of Gene Hackman and Rachel Weisz to keep you glued to what is happening but the movie has a lot of glaring problems that makes it hard to sit though in certain parts.
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7/10
An Entertaining Thriller
mjw230530 January 2005
Nicholas Easter (John Cusack) is desperate to get on this jury. With a high powered Gun Manufacturer, at risk of being held responsible for selling the guns that are used in crime, the question is why.

Gene Hackman is brought in for the defence as a jury consultant, who is at ease with digging up dirt and manipulating jurors, to get the results he wants.

And Rachel Weisz is an outsider, pulling Easters strings. As the stakes get higher, there is no doubt that this Jury is For Sale, but will the highest bidder win.

Hackman, Weisz and Cusack are all on top form for this one, but Hoffman's Character seemed to lack a little depth.

Basically a good thriller, that is worth watching, but don't expect too much, you might feel let down.

7/10
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7/10
Am I allowed to review this, having not read the novel?
lee_eisenberg8 November 2005
I've read many times about how John Grisham's novel was about the tobacco industry, not a gun manufacturer. Still, "Runaway Jury" does do a good job with its material. Nick Easter (John Cusack) is the squeaky clean member of a jury determining a gun-death trial in New Orleans. Some special interests are trying to manipulate the jury, but Nick isn't about to let that happen.

A major part of this movie is that Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman co-star at long last. Their conversation is sort of like the one between Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in "Heat", although slightly more laid back. All in all, the movie comes out pretty well, with great performances from all cast members. Who ever would have imagined "Animal House"'s D-Day playing a judge?
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9/10
Taut Thriller with Some Nice Twists
adam-2367 March 2005
I must confess the main reason I adore this movie is because of Rachel Weisz, who is not only such a hottie in this film, but is absolutely perfect in her role as "Marlee". Oh, and John Cusack is very good as well. The plot is not straightforward and the twists keep this from degenerating into a formulaic trial movie. The tension builds steadily. Gene Hackman makes an excellent bad guy as the lawyer for the gun industry and there are several good supporting roles, especially that of Bruce Mc Gill, as the judge. The only black mark on the film is Dustin Hoffman, who is either badly miscast or else just can't act anymore. I have seen this movie at least 10 times and I enjoy it every time.
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The good, the bad, and the ugly.
swellguynextdoor21 September 2004
Decent but very flawed film that has so many points to it that it can't be categorize in simply good or bad.

The Good: Some of the performances are spectacular and deserving of a much better movie than this. Gene Hackman hasn't been this good in ages, and he's one of the few reasons that this movie is watchable. The next reason is Rachel Weisz, who is the only actor Hackman has had in quite some time that is his equal in performance and in acting prowess. She is so good in fact that she does almost steal the film from him and then some. The city of New Orleans is a fascinating setting for this film but wrong because it's not the original setting of the book.

The Bad: Dustin Hoffman is not really in the movie and is really a minor character in the whole story. Which is too bad because he's such a charismatic actor and deserves a much bigger role than what he had. The next problem is the whole spy versus spy angle that makes the whole film into a joke because no one would go that far to rig a jury, especially in a case that would have been thrown out of a real court with the facts that was presented in the film. Which leads to….

The Ugly: The script is really bad. How bad you say? It took almost four writers to outline the story, which bare in mind does not follow the book at all. The dialog is great in places and bad in others, and the whole structure of the film is paper-thin which is easily to blow holes thru. The story runs out of gas in the half way point of the film and the ideas express seems more like a bias view of what the law should be than a realistic view of what the law really is. I think the biggest offence the movie makes is changing the text of the original novel and making about guns other than big tobacco. John Grisham's original novel was hugely entertaining and down right poignant in its views about justice. This film seems like it has not idea where it's at from time to time and lacks a coherent narrative to even try to explain the stuff that is going on right in front of you.

Even with the good points, the bad does out weight the good here. It's a decent film because of the acting of Rachel Weisz and Gene Hackman but they like the viewer are let down with a script that lacks conviction for the subject it covers and a real point of view that expresses the feelings of the reality of the gun issue.
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Good and disappointing all at the same time.
mooreover20002 June 2004
Good but a bit disappointing adaptation to the John Grisham thriller does not follow the book the way it should be, and lacks the momentum of the court proceedings that follow. The acting is first rate with Rachel Weisz and Gene Hackman being the standouts in a cast that includes Dustin Hoffman John Cusack, and Bruce Davidson. Weisz and Hackman's performances are of Oscar quality, despite the fact that the movie is not up to their caliber of acting. The setting is a little out of the way, and the pacing is a little off with scenes that go way to fast but the film is ultimately save by the acting by all involved, most of which is credited to Weisz and Hackman.

2 stars for Weisz and Hackman but don't expect anything close to the book.
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6/10
Be Entertained... But Disappointed
ReelCheese30 September 2007
John Grisham probably wasn't entirely happy with this adaptation of his intriguing novel, and chances are you won't, either. John Cusack stars as Nick Easter, a cunning young juror trying to bribe both the defense and the prosecution in a high-profile case against a gun manufacturer.

RUNAWAY JURY starts out quite strong, and those who haven't read the book are lured into the clever, original plot with all its turns. But some how, some way, the film gradually loses its footing. It's as if all the interesting twists are used up in the first hour, forcing the writers to pad the remainder with drawn-out scenes and contrived dialog (a scene where the simplistically pure Dustin Hoffman and the simplistically evil Gene Hackman meet in the men's room stands out in particular).

RUNAWAY JURY also commits a near unforgivable flaw for fictitious entertainment: it's too damn preachy. Once again, and in typical Hollywood fashion, guns and those who make them are portrayed as a type of grotesque venom stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Indeed viewers who believe criminals, not firearm makers, are responsible for gun crime, are treated as something of a parasite, best exemplified by a raving juror played a gruff Cliff Curtis.

In the end, RUNAWAY JURY is a film that is difficult to critique. It certainly has more right with it than wrong, but the negative aspects somehow disproportionately consume the final product. Some will absolutely love it, others may absolutely hate it, but most will probably be entertained yet disappointed at the same time.
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8/10
Nice acting, smart screenplay make this sleek thriller quite enjoyable.
shanfloyd24 September 2005
I have read a few Grisham, but not this one. I must say, although the story is quite equipped with brilliant twists, it is basically a pretty idealistic story. But we do love this kind of idealism when it is used in such a smart fashion. I can't say about the quality of the book, but the film excels mainly because its brilliant screenplay and acting. Just look at the cast: Dustin Hoffman and John Cusack are awesome in their roles. And I just love to see Hackman playing the villain. The ravishingly beautiful Rachel Weisz only adds to the superiority of the whole cast's performances. The director, Fleder, proves that he is a stylish filmmaker when it comes to thrillers. And so we must also thank him for this film's perfection.
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7/10
My personal favorite Grisham adaptation till date.
Boba_Fett113825 September 2004
Problem with John Grisham adaptations is that the stories are all incredibly unbelievable. "Runaway Jury" also has a quite ridicules story but nevertheless I enjoyed this movie.

Although "A Time to Kill" is the best Grisham adaptation, "Runaway Jury" is the more enjoyable one. The story isn't brought as heavy as other Grisham adaptations such as: "The Firm, "The Client" and "The Pelican Brief". Compared to that movies this movie also has a far more superior style and atmosphere.

The cast is impressive and filled with stars such as: John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz. For some reason I had the feeling that the Dustin Hoffman character was pushed a bit too much to the background at moments especially towards the end. The supporting cast is wonderful and is filled with some solid supporting actors such as: Bruce Davison, Bruce McGill (which I love!), Nick Searcy, Stanley Anderson, Cliff Curtis, Nestor Serrano, Luis Guzmán, Dylan McDermott and Leland Orser, all big names in the business. The movie might very well have the best supporting cast of the last couple of years.

The Hackman/Hoffman scene is really good and one, if not THE highlight of the movie.

The movie offers a few surprising plot twists especially towards the ending, which I really loved! The movie is far from boring especially for a court drama and has a good quick pace but still a bit too many ridicules and unbelievable moments.

Not a great movie but still very enjoyable.

7/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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6/10
Slick Hollywood Twisty Entertainment
noralee22 December 2005
"Runaway Jury "is a serviceable piece of disposable Hollywood entertainment, accomplished efficiently by pro's doing their usual accomplished thing so we should get distracted from how disheartening it all is.

Gene Hackman has practically copyrighted his Mephistopheles impersonation, from "No Way Out" through "Unforgiven" on, and is so much fun at it here he just may really be the Devil. Probably playing against his old friend Dustin Hoffman as a much less showy knee-jerk liberal juiced him up even more than usual. (My son reports he and his girlfriend were the youngest people in the theater so I guess only old folks care about matching up these two actors.)

John Cusack recalls his "Grifter," as a nice guy con man. Rachel Weisz uses her feminine wiles even more manipulatively than she did in "Shape of Things."

David Baerwald was the music coordinator, so it's disappointing that there isn't more New Orleans music to set the wasted mis en scene, though that sure sounded like Sonny Landredth's distinctive slide guitar behind the Peter Malick and Norah Jones Dylan cover over the credits.

And I wasn't even biased by the fact that my cousin the actress's day job is working for jury consultants by coaching witnesses to speak convincingly!

(originally written 11/12/2003)
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The acting is great( Thanks mostly to Rachel Weisz and Gene Hackman) But the film is not that good.
tictkkynom30 July 2004
Tepid reworking of the John Grisham book misses the inner workings of the subject matter at hand and delivers a week adaptation that lacks the conviction and the substance of the novel. The script is a mess from start to finish, and some sub plots involving certain characters don't really go anywhere in terms of furthering the plot along. The acting is very good with great performances by Rachel Weisz, who really makes this film a better one than it really is with her great performance and Gene Hackman, who kept the pace up with his great performance with a villainous, and yet sympathetic role. Dustin Hoffman is great as well but is not really in the film as much as advertise, and John Cusack does fine with his role. I just wish that the movie could have been as professional and as graceful as the actors involved, instead of the clunker that is presented to us now.
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DVD Special Features
cgrenawalt18 February 2004
Some great interviews with Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman reminiscing about their friendship and how they first met. I found that to be worth renting the DVD alone. Plus an interesting scene breakdown and acting styles given by both Gene, Dustin and the Director about the veterans 7 minute scene together.
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8/10
Entertaining and worth watching.
yossarian10018 February 2004
For me, the cast did a good enough job they can read phone books out loud from now on and I'll still cough up my money. The story kept my interest with a good legal and illegal scam and plenty of action, I didn't figure out the ending, and Runaway Jury was both entertaining and worth watching. The movie appealed to my politics, too, but then my politics mostly revolve around peace and compassion.....and organized labor. Thirty thousand gun deaths? One hundred thousand wounded and maimed? To my conservative friends: You don't have to worry yet. Those numbers aren't high enough. You can still safely own your assault weapons.
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A legal bind of creative proportion
leaveittochances14 October 2004
Flat legal Thriller that has a great cast but does not have a great script to go with them. Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman all do well with what is on the script but you can tell that they are giving it more heart and substance than what was on the written page. The direction is fine but lacks coherency and the setting of New Orleans is not fully represented to it's full potential. I have not read the original book that inspired this movie but judging by the word of mouth, the book is considered much better. I give thanks to Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman for making this film a much better experience than the script wanted it to be but I also feel bad for then for not having a script that helps them move this picture along to a much better end.
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1/10
Not at all happy with what they've done with this one!
dvcnra4528 October 2003
Hollywood demonstrates once again its' venomous hatred for guns and gun owners (except when using guns to shoot dozens of people in needlessly gory scenes in movies!) by changing the basic story line in 'Runaway Jury' from a trial against the tobacco companies to one about punishing gun companies.> Grisham's original plot (essentially a rehash of one he's done before about insiders beating criminals at their own game, a David versus Goliath theme) in the book was about Big Tobacco perverting a jury trial with paid 'consultants' who'll stoop to anything, including murder, to get their client the verdict they desire.

In a pathetic attempt to be topical, or just to vent their spleens at gun makers, the Hollywood intelligentsia have changed that to gun makers on trial. This is pathetic in so many ways, not the least of which is that gun makers don't have even a fraction of the money that lured trial lawyers into laying siege against tobacco like moths to a flame, and that they've NEVER been shown to engage in tactics of this sort, preferring to rely on facts and figures. But Hollywood's elite leftists can't shake their visceral hatred of gun owners and so have taken what COULD have been a good movie, with a good cast, and turned it on its' ear to make another tired diatribe against people they don't understand and a culture that they loathe.

The only thing that I can hope for is that Mr. Grisham had nothing to do with this perversion of his story, otherwise I'll never be able to read his books with a clear conscience again. I did look forward to seeing this movie, since I love John Cusack's work, but this leaves me cold and angry.
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I Guess You Never Know What a Jury Will Decide.
tfrizzell29 November 2003
Surprisingly entertaining, albeit kind of helter-skelter at times, "Runaway Jury" ends up being one of the better films of this cinematic year. In New Orleans a high-class stock broker (Dylan McDermott) is gunned down in his office, along with 10 other co-workers. Fast forward a little and his widow (Joanna Going) is taking the manufacturers of the gun that ultimately killed her husband to court in a nationally imperative suit. The gun manufacturers take no chances in the verdict as they decide to get the shady Gene Hackman (in a delightfully wicked role) to go behind the scenes literally via surveillance equipment, public records and everything else at his disposal to help lawyer Bruce Davison choose a jury that will deliver a not-guilty verdict. On the other side of the coin Southern attorney Dustin Hoffman is trying to strike a major blow against the American gun industry. He is a straight-shooter and has a sense of moral duty, but he is visibly shaken when anti-Hackman specialist Jeremy Piven visits him as the trial is about to start and explains that his services are needed if Hoffman is going to be able to sway the jury to his side. It is apparent quite quickly that electronics store employee John Cusack is the primary juror who is going to take center-stage. Soon we realize though that he may have ulterior motives of his own. He keeps popping up around with the beautiful, but suspicious Rachel Weisz and it becomes pretty obvious that the duo may not be strangers at all. They might even be working together in an elaborate scheme to control the jury and force Hackman's people and Hoffman's people to sweat over what the verdict will be. Why would they be doing this? Well for millions of dollars of course, but is that the only reason and how noble or how deviant are their methods in reality? "Runaway Jury" kept me guessing and confused for most all its running time (this is a compliment). Just when I thought everything was crystal clear the film jumped to chaos and jumbled the atmosphere of the picture once again. Hackman dominates and Hoffman matches his brilliance blow by dizzying blow. Cusack and Weisz definitely have a chemistry and end up being a dynamic duo with deceptively difficult parts to pull off. Everyone else is good enough to make the thing work. The ending is somewhat ho-hum really, but I liked the vast majority of the movie well enough to give it a positive rating. 4 stars out of 5.
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Bravo to Rachel Weisz and Gene Hackman for making a weak film with a mediocre script better than should have been.
carnavalbarker1 October 2004
Fine but very flawed courtroom drama gets a good verdict from me not because of its preposterous story and mediocre script but from the acting from two very good actors. Gene Hackman gives this over the top film credibility with a strong performance as a court analyze for the defends. Yes, his character is over the top as well but Gene gives him a natural presents that makes you believe in him. The second is from Rachel Weisz, who brings a real sense of strong will, and bravado to a character who could have been one note in any other actresses hand. Rachel makes the actions of her character seem plausible even when the scam she is trying to pull off seems impossible.

This is not a faithful adaptation of the novel of the same name but because of the acting involve, it does get a passing grade from me. Too bad the script could not help support the talents involve.
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This runaway train should have made some stops before it was made into a film.
marksbouh23 September 2004
Just average thriller that needs more of a shot in the arm in order to be taken as a serious film about the judicial system. The performances are great with Gene Hackman Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman doing their best in order to make you care about what is going on but the script is a mess and the direction is sloppy at best. Gene Hackman is a great actor and he does wonders with a role he has done in countless other movies. Rachel Weisz is with out a doubt one of the most versatile and most talented actresses of our generation and she is so brilliant in this film that she should have been the lead instead of John Cusack, who is horribly miscast in his role and Dustin Hoffman, who is still a class act but he's not in this movie too much at all and he does nothing other than have a fight with Gene in the men's room of all places. All three of them make this film a better viewing experience than it is but they are stuck with a bad script that not only insults their talents but insults the audiences intelligence as well. They also have a director who really seems like he had no idea on what he was doing when he was making the film. Certain scenes don't go anywhere in terms of narrative and certain scenes are way overdone in terms of dramatic effect. I think the worst thing about the whole film is John Cusack, who proves once again to be a very overrate actor with very limited range. Not only is he miscast as the lead but also he drags the whole film down in certain places because of how dreary he looks and acts. He shares the screen with Gene Hackman for three minutes and Gene literally wipes the floor with him in talent and Rachel Weisz is literally carrying him in all their scenes together, making her do all the work while he just stands there looking like a fool. A better actor would bring his fair share to the table but John Cusack does not and makes the viewer suffer because of his lack of talent. I would have rather seen more of Dustin Hoffman's character that Cusack's but unfortunately we stuck with more time with the mediocre Cusack than with the great Hoffman.

It's a good film for what it is but it needed a real script and a better direction for me to take it seriously, not to mention a much better actor for one of the roles.
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1/10
One sided-manipulative anti-gun propaganda
dandrew112 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Lopsided, manipulative and also full of half-truths. I expected a movie about trials and the jury system but instead got a wild-eyed liberal message that guns get up by themselves and kill people. Suppose the case had been a bit different yet ... let's say Marlee had been pregnant and gone for advice only to be persuaded by the greedy medical profession to get an abortion. Later she regrets it and has a terrible time dealing with the fact that greedy abortion doctors had misled her in persuading her to get an abortion. She sued and lost but now other were suing the greedy abortion doctors in other cities so she and good old brave Nick go there and pull the same stunts they pulled in this movie. Same story line but I bet not one of those who helped put this piece of lopsided propaganda together would go near it. Is this the way we want our "heroes" to tackle our justice system? The old "ends justifies the means" argument? Or is it a matter of which ends we seek? Is this what we want to glorify? For the record, I happen to be pro choice but I have also owned a gun most of my life and have yet to ever shoot another human being with it. I also hate it when I get fingerprints on it as they develop into nasty rust marks. Nope - never used it in any crime either.
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