5.8/10
2,547
22 user 19 critic

Criminal Law (1988)

Oldman plays a lawyer who defends a killer, but, soon after he wins he finds out that the killer is guilty.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Chattahoochee (1989)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In 1955 Florida, a Korean vet has a breakdown and is incarcerated in a "maximum security" mental health prison, where patients are abused.

Director: Mick Jackson
Stars: Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Frances McDormand
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An aimless young man, Johnny, is sent prison. He entrusts his beloved dog, Evie, to the care of his former lover and best friend, Frank. When he gets out of prison, he has to face ... See full summary »

Director: Colin Gregg
Stars: Alan Bates, Max Wall, Liz Smith
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An eager and idealistic young attorney defends an Alcatraz prisoner accused of murdering a fellow inmate. The extenuating circumstances: his client had just spent over three years in solitary confinement.

Director: Marc Rocco
Stars: Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

This film is the story of the spectacular life and violent death of British playwright Joe Orton. In his teens, Orton is befriended by the older, more reserved Kenneth Halliwell, and while ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Gary Oldman, Alfred Molina, Vanessa Redgrave
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Dan and Lorie are journalists working in the same office. More often than not they have opposing view of the issue in question. Deciding that this is hot stuff, a television producer gives ... See full summary »

Directors: Ken Kwapis, Marisa Silver
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Perkins, Nathan Lane
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Terry Noonan returns home to New York's Hells Kitchen after a ten year absence. He soon hooks up with childhood pal Jackie who is involved in the Irish mob run by his brother Frankie. Terry... See full summary »

Directors: Phil Joanou, Michael Lee Baron
Stars: Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Film school grad Nick Chapman thought his career was made after his award winning short film, but discovered Hollywood wasn't as easy as it seems.

Director: Christopher Guest
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Emily Longstreth
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Karchy (Brad Renfro) is a boy in school who has moved from Hungary to America in the 1960's. He is struggling in school and trying to adjust to America's culture. He then hears about a ... See full summary »

Director: Guy Ferland
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Brad Renfro, Maximilian Schell
Track 29 (1988)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A doctor's wife tires of his obsession with model trains, and spends her days wondering about the son she gave up for adoption at birth. While eating at a roadside cafe, she encounters a ... See full summary »

Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: Theresa Russell, Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd
Defenseless (1991)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A lawyer is hired to defend an old college friend accused of murdering her husband.

Director: Martin Campbell
Stars: Barbara Hershey, Sam Shepard, Mary Beth Hurt
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Detective Jack Grimaldi (Gary Oldman) takes us through his shattered life after encountering the most deadly (and deceptive) criminal he has ever had to deal with. It doesn't help that ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Medak
Stars: Gary Oldman, Lena Olin, Wallace Wood
Remembrance (1982)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A group of Devonport-based Royal Navy ratings, due to sail to America for a six-month NATO exercise, go out on the town on their last night in port, hitting Plymouth's notorious Union ... See full summary »

Director: Colin Gregg
Stars: Roger Adamson, John Altman, Dawn Archibald
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ben Chase
...
...
...
...
Sean McCann ...
...
...
Karen Woolridge ...
Claudia Curwen (as Karen Wooldridge)
...
Rob Roy ...
Terrence Labrosse ...
Judge (as Terrence La Brosse)
Barbara Jones ...
Sandra Massina (as Barbara Ann Jones)
Jeannie Walker ...
...
Edit

Storyline

A rising young attorney successfully defends a man accused of murder, only to have the same type of murder then happen again. Right away the previously defended man hires the attorney again, and although the attorney is quite certain that he is the killer, he agrees to again defend him... much to the consternation of his friends. However, he explains that by being his attorney he will be better able to catch the man in a mistake... and on this the rest of the film develops, with the killer playing a cat and mouse game with the attorney until, at last, they both must recognize that they are not all that different. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A killer is back on the streets. The only one who can stop him is the lawyer who set him free. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 April 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Frauenmörder  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$9,974,446 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie's closing credits states that "this film was shot on location in Montreal and Quebec City" which are both in Quebec, Canada. See more »

Goofs

Fuel pumps display amounts in liters even though the location is supposed to be in Massachusetts. See more »

Quotes

Martin Thiel: I love the rain... it washes everything away... makes it clean.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Resident Alien (1990) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
An Early Classic for Oldman and Bacon
2 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Criminal Law is a thriller of the first order.

Performances were outstanding by all. The Martin Thiel character, played to dizzy, frightening reality by Bacon, is chilling, to say the least.

The courtroom scenes were excellently written and performed. Oldman, as Ben Chase, acts at a high level as he brings his character through the torturous conflict between his professional ethics and his own humanity. Without, I might add, any British accent showing through, but with a clearly intentional Irish brogue when his blood is up. Nice work, that.

Mark Kasdan--author of Silverado and brother of writer/director/producer Lawrence Kasdan--writes a spare story with immediate suspense. He neatly puts attorney and client in a cat-and-mouse game, where Chase's silence, or betrayal, are equally dangerous for him, and for his love interest, Ellen, played well by Karen Young (Heat, 9-1/2 Weeks).

Elizabeth Shepherd plays the icy mother to perfection. Her blind devotion to her son, along with the absence of any physical display of emotion, are together at the root of the Thiel family dysfunction. This interpersonal rift makes the Martin Thiel character appear stiff and creepy and adds to the confusion and suspense of his innocence or guilt in the string of grisly sex murders that pepper this film.

The use of fire and rain throughout also enrages the imagination and adds clearly to the loathing an animal fear in Criminal Law. It is easy for the viewer to feel stalked or hunted in these parts of the movie--deliciously!

Tess Harper and Joe Don Baker have critical but minor roles, and do nothing to spoil the suspense of it. Both get well into their characters, though, somehow, Harper's Det. Stillwell and Shepherd's Dr. Thiel persona seem too similar...a minor overall script chemistry complaint, at that.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie, much better than most we see today almost 20 years hence. Yes, there are minor scripting flaws that I think the true movie-lover will forgive. Any fan of Kevin Bacon and/or Gary Oldman who hasn't seen this film is missing something terrific.


12 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
so is it just me or... steviekaps9013
Gary's accent Snoopymichele
The tagline Nowear
Blanks? algsmail
Discuss Criminal Law (1988) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?