Home / Review: A Time To Kill… McConaughey & Bullock Deliver Knockout Performances

Review: A Time To Kill… McConaughey & Bullock Deliver Knockout Performances

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McConaughey, Bullock, Jackson, Judd Ignite The Screen in A Time To Kill.

I want to do only one Standing Ovation a week, but I watched this movie again a few weeks ago and I just had to mention it. It’s sensational. And I don’t know how they managed to get this much talent into one film.

In A Time To Kill, a young black girl is raped and severely beaten by two white men in a racist southern town in Mississippi. The girl’s father, played by Samuel L. Jackson, knows that it’s unlikely these men will be convicted, especially with an all-white jury in the box.

Before their trial is even over, Carl Lee (Jackson’s character) shoots and kills the two men in cold blood in the courthouse. He hires Matthew McConaughey, a young, attractive, budding lawyer who once helped his brother, to represent him in his murder trial.

McConaughey’s wife is played by Ashley Judd, and McConaughey’s eventual legal team consists of Oliver Platt and the excellent Sandra Bullock, with Donald Sutherland acting as his drunken, washed-up but smart mentor, while Kevin Spacey plays the slimy but smooth prosecutor. Kiefer Sutherland (yes, Donald’s son&#8212the irony, I know) plays the brother of one of the white men Carl Lee killed, and he gets the Ku Klux Klan, which has been absent from the public eye for quite a while, to taunt and threaten McConaughey, his family, and his legal team for helping out Carl Lee.

Everything about this movie is excellent: the writing, the directing, the music, the acting, of course. But how could it not be, when you have a cast like this one? I mean… Matthew McConaughey, Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Kiefer Sutherland, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey (one of my favorites), Donald Sutherland, Oliver Platt… ALL IN ONE FILM?

McConaughey and Bullock really have the standout performances of the film&#8212especially McConaughey’s closing speech to the jury, which would bring tears to the eyes of even John Madden, and Bullock’s charismatic and charming performance that seems almost effortless (which she has done in almost everything I’ve ever seen her in). Hats off to John Grisham whose book A Time To Kill inspired the movie, for writing such a true and triumphant story. I give this movie three stars on the acting alone&#8212but combined with Grisham’s excellent writing&#8212four stars.
Edited: PC

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About Chris Evans

  • Sun, I have moved this post to Video rather than Books, as it seems to be focused on the movie. Good review – I put two Books sub-categories in well.

  • Jordan

    I absolutely loved this movie. Matthew McConaughey is SO hot!

  • Great review. This is SUCH a good movie. You’re right about the cast, everyone is absolutely brilliant in it. I remember after I first watched it many years ago, it stayed stuck in my mind for so long. It’s a rare thing for a movie to that now, it seems. And yeah, Jordan, Matthew McConaughey isn’t too hard to look at for two hours. Ahem.

  • Good review – Grisham books tend to make good films.

  • Rayne

    This review is AWESOME. You should really write for like…Entertainment Weekly or something. Haha

    Yeah, I loved this movie. The acting was great. Sandra Bullock <3

    Aaand....Matthew McConaughey...OMG....I need to marry him now.

  • sun, a well written review here of what i consider one of the worst, most hilariously inept pictures i’ve ever endured.

    it’s incredibly smug, it’s snidely racist (good ol’ white boy saves a buncha black types), it rattles on about being anti-death penalty yet asks us to support Sam Jackson’s actions, it equates the NAACP with the KKK, it has a LUDICROUS portrayal of the KKK at that (i mean come the hell on, what klansman ever had to sign a form to join???), it’s just a wretched, wretched, WRETCHED film that maybe has it’s heart somewhere near the right place but has its brain somewhere to the back of the arse.

  • Oh come on Aaron, you have to at LEAST admit that the acting is wonderful.

  • well, Chris, i could maybe force myself to note that everyone was certainly awful shiney. all that sweat, man. that musta been one stinky shoot.

  • Oh my God…you must be one tortured soul to not love Sandra and Matthew in this movie.

  • ha! it keeps me awake at night.

    mind you, i hear Matthew plays a mean bongo or two…

  • Lmao! Yeah, I hear that too. Don’t talk about that though…I might just faint or start hyperventilating.

  • Okay…did anyone else cry at the end?

  • did anyone else cry at the end?

    Maybe we should ask John Madden – if he admits it, I will…

  • LMAO!

  • Matthew McCona-fahey (blatant Duke reference) is from the south and I still did not buy his accent. Keyser Soze’s was more believable.

    I wanted to like this movie. I just… could not. And Sandra Bullock as an actress? Well. I bet she pronounces Fahey wrong, too.

  • Sandra was wonderful in this movie. her character was so integral to the formula of this movie. It wouldn’t have worked without her. Kind of the way Monk wouldn’t work without Sherona or Natalie.

  • McCona-fahey!! hahaha DJ, you are tremendous.

    as to whether or not i cried at the end, i think i puked maybe, and then laughed long and hard.

  • Yeah….hilarious…really. o.o;

  • nothin about the film was in the slightest bit sincere or involving or intelligent. that it was tryin so hard to convince us of its worth made me laugh.

  • Well the majority of critics seem to disagree with you.

  • this is true, Chris, but they thought Citizen Kane was shit, too.

  • This film is aptly named because it’s a complete waste of time. I blocked most of it out like I do with the majority of work by the untalented hacks Schumacher and Goldsman

    I had no sympathy for Jackson because he took the law into his own hands before the trail because white men have gotten off before for raping a girl in another town. Sorry, but he is no different than the rapists. If they had gotten away with it and he had killed them after the trial, then I would have been on his side. If things are as bad for the black man as Jackson says, wouldn’t the jury have found him guilty?

    What’s so impressive with the speech at the end? It’s the same speech that was made earlier in the film, by Jackson, I believe.