A Time to Kill

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A Time to Kill ★★★½ 1996 (R)

Powerful story of revenge, racism, and the question of justice in the “new south.” John Grisham had a lot of clout when he finally sold his first and favorite novel to the movies, including veto power over the leading man—director Schumacher was for Woody Harrelson, Grisham was opposed but both finally agreed on newcomer McConaughey. He's outstanding as idealistic smalltown Mississippi lawyer Jake Brigance, called to defend anguished father Carl Lee Hailey (Jackson), who's accused of killing the rednecks who raped his young daughter. Jake's assisted by former mentor Lucien Wilbanks (Suth erland) and ambitious northern law stu dent Ellen Roark (Bullock) against ruthless prosecutor Rufus Buckley (Spacey). Is it emotionally manipulative? You betcha. But Grisham's done well on screen and Schumacher (who also did “The Client”) knows how to get the most from his cast and script. 150m/C VHS, DVD . Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Fricker, Oliver Platt, Charles S. Dutton, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Cooper, Ashley Judd, Patrick McGoohan, Rae'ven (Alyia Larrymore) Kelly, John Diehl, Tonea Stewart, M. Emmet Walsh, Anthony Heald, Kurtwood Smith; D: Joel Schumacher; W: Akiva Goldsman; C: Peter Menzies Jr.; M: Elliot Goldenthal. MTV Movie Awards ‘97: Breakthrough Perf. (McConaughey).