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—the 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—especially 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—but combined with Grisham’s excellent writing—four stars.