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As a solicitor I normally like lawyer movies, but as a new father I
loved this movie.
Most lawyer movies just have hypothetical issues which just raise my interest or remind me of my past.
This one awakened my imagination to the future.
My daughter is less than 12 months old and Hackman's character hit the exact note of feeling and pleasure, I feel when holding my daughter in my arms and watching her grow.
I can say that the scene at the end moved me to tears as I think about holding my daughter in my arms.
Hackman is by far on of the greatest actors I have ever seen. The others I can say did a fantastic job as well. You hate the villains and love the heroes.
As a fan of Hackman, Mastrantonio, and courtroom drama, I thought this
might be another overlooked chestnut that might repay viewing. Well, I
enjoyed the film thoroughly - but it was not really courtroom drama. So
if that is what you're looking for, go elsewhere. People are in
courtrooms, and there's some cross-examination, but that is not the
core of the movie. The core is a story about a father-daughter
relationship, and the ups and downs that the relationship can take.
Criticized for being 'predictable' or 'smarmy', I found it to be a warm
and occasionally humorous take on a plot that may have been presented
before, but certainly bore presenting again, and I enjoyed the film
Apted's directing is effective, though never innovative. The actors are all good - in fact, it is to their credit that they made simple lines and dialogue so effective. Hackman, of course, as always,is the professional he always is, and in Mastrantonio he has an actress who can take his words and put her own spin on them. Supporting cast is very solid, the music is early James Horner (good, but again nothing brilliant), setting and atmosphere were both average.
Overall, not a movie for a guy and his girl to watch, but a great movie for that girl and her father to watch. It would've been a great all-rounder if the drama had been in the court-room...
Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio provide a perfect
chemistry as a father and daughter, both of whom being attorneys in
this excellent 1991 film.
The plot is twofold. Not only are the two on opposite sides of a case involving a faulty automobile but they must cope with the death of the mother, a lovely lady who chose to remain with a wandering Hackman.
Hackman argues the case for the defense. It is horrifying that a cover-up existed because it would be cheaper to deal with the lawsuits than to make the necessary improvements.
A very engrossing film dealing with the human spirit, ethics and indifference. Highly recommended.
Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastroantonio are involved in a "Class
Action" in this 1991 film that also stars Laurence Fishburne, Donald
Moffatt, Joanna Merlin and Fred Thompson. Hackman and MEM, father and
daughter, are both attorneys. "I raised you," Jed (Hackman) yells at
Maggie (MEM) during one scene. "Mom raised me," she screams back. "You
had a date." Maggie's resentment over her father's infidelity erupts
after the death of her mother (Merlin) in a powerful scene. Although
Maggie has tried to reconcile with him, she finds there is too much in
the way. Maggie is in an ethical quandary when the law firm she works
for wants to suppress evidence about an automobile manufacturer's
malfeasance; complicating things is that her father heads the team the
other side of the case.
This is a very good movie that emotionally rings true, thanks to a good script and fine performances by Hackman and Mary Elizabeth. I had the pleasure of working with Mary Elizabeth when she was a Broadway actress - a lovely woman with a great talent, shown here to excellent advantage. Grieving for her mother and unable to accept her father's love, she is blindsided by her boyfriend/boss' ethics violation and has nowhere to turn. The viewer can really feel her pain. Hackman is wonderful as a shark attorney who loved his wife deeply but made some unfortunate choices and alienated his only child. He finds himself now vulnerable and confused; Hackman expresses these emotions beautifully. There is able support from the top-notch cast.
Compelling and at times powerful.
I still find it kind of a coincidence that this was aired here on the
cable the day before Fathers' Day here. Father Jedediah Ward (Gene
Hackman) and daughter Maggie (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) are both
lawyers and coincidentally, they are on the opposing ends of a major
From the start, one can see that Maggie is very driven to be successful in the lawyers' circles given she told her boss she wanted to take on the case because she is very aware of the company the law firm she works for represents. And her colleagues then told her that her father is the plaintiff for the case. Now this drove the daughter to outwin her father in the courtroom even more.
All the estrangement actually went back to the time when Maggie realised her father is not faithful to her mother. So whenever they passed by each other, Maggie often never gave her father one look. After Mrs Ward's passing, father and daughter reunite each other for a while...but! The old issues all came back.
And when along the way in researching for the case, an obstacle appeared and it almost led Maggie into trouble. Jedediah thought his daughter is almost in trouble and they managed to clear out some things between each other. It even led to surprising events which happened on the day of the big court case.
For me who has always been interested how lawyers always go about their work, this is a nice introduction. Father-daughter relationship is also being explored here. That is why I said about the movie on cable the day before it's Fathers' Day today here.
Sometimes I'm left with the impression that viewers think all films should be award winning material, as though the goal and worth of a film can be judged by the amount of award nominations it generates and brings home. I disagree, a good film should entertain, and that is what this film does very well. Nice on location sets give the film an authentic and attractive feel. The acting is top notch. The two main overlapping stories, the father & daughter relationship and the legal battle, tie in very nicely. This is a solid film that draws the viewer in and keeps his/her attention until final scene. There are many ways to waste two hours, this film is not one of them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Normally I am not a big fan of courtroom drama. Somehow, law & order, crime
& punishment make me very uneasy. While visiting my mom, however, Class
Action was coming on TV (a Fox station, so I assume it may have been uncut).
Since it co-starred Gene Hackman, I decided to watch. I was
Hackman is one of my favorites and never lets me down. He and co-star Mary Elizabeth Mastratonia both turn in riveting performances as a father-daughter attorneys. The film is emotionally-charged throughout, but never boils over into the sappy range. Without any spoilers, the ending is no huge surprise, but is satisfying as is the movie as a whole.
Hackman plays Jedediah Tucker Ward, an aging lawyer who has made a national reputation as a David vs. Goliath foe of major corporations. His semi-estranged daughter, Maggie (Mastratonia) has followed his footsteps-at least into the law profession. There the similarity stops, as she is bucking for a partnership in a prestigious firm that handles some of the nation's largest corporations. Both actors turn in tremendous performances.
When the hostile father & daughter find themselves on opposite ends of a huge class action law suit over a car exploding a few years earlier, the already strained relationship is pushed to its limits. Jed's wife (Maggie's mother, of course), Estelle (Joann Merlin) tries to keep them from digging an impenetrable schism between themselves.
Some fine courtroom drama and domestic drama ensues and the winner is clearly the audience. The two leads are tremendous-even bearing some facial resemblance-and the rest of the veteran cast is very strong. I had never even heard of this film before today, but it is a definite winner.
This subdued courtroom drama starts out like an extended episode of
L.A. LAW but quickly reveals itself as the unheralded gem it is. Gene
Hackman is as solid as ever as a fervent lawyer battling an auto giant
accused of manufacturing a faulty model. The twist is that his rival
attorney just happens to be his self-reliant daughter, played by Mary
CLASS ACTION is not a flashy, fill-up-the-screen-every-minute kind of film. But it is a quite compelling effort. The courtroom storyline is captivating, with director Michael Apted expertly showing the case and its various twists and turns from both sides. Anyone who was glued to the set anytime L.A. LAW came on be in heaven.
Then there's the family dynamic. Hackman and Mastrantonio are convincing as the father and daughter. He seems to know everything and she wants to prove that he does not. They begin the film miles apart in their relationship and it seems a tense court case will further drive in the wedge between them. It's a plot line that works well and helps elevate the film.
The idea, great. the actors, terrific. The plot, solid. the outcome, OK at best. Class Action has its moments, but spends way too much time developing the father-daughter relationship. Just as you get into the dirty dealings of the law firm, the director and editors give us more forced relationship. This is worth a look, but only if on TV.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This treasure faded quickly due to two main factors: 1. Most went into the movie expecting a pure courtroom movie like: The Verdict or Anatomy Of A Murder. Yes, it has a great court case within it, but at its heart, it is the story of a father and daughter deeply estranged from each other. 2. The other is zeitgeist drift: the norms of marital infidelity simply are not as pronounced as they were when this was released. The younger generation will find Maggie's mother's emotional trauma, from Jedidiah's infidelities, to be rather odd or quaint. Remember, this was almost thirty years ago, marital infidelity was much more normatively sanctioned. I commend it to you for two excellent acting performances. Hackman and Mastrantonio give memorable readings. You will see an excellent depiction of what, in psychology, we call: stimulus generalization. Maggie hates her father for his humiliation of her mother with his flagrant, cruel affairs with younger women. Though he does great work fighting for the poor, Maggie has transferred her hatred onto the causes he fights for. She then goes all corporate, joining a crooked law firm and getting ready for that worshiped partnership and marriage to corporate boy. The movie follows the two being on opposing sides in a car liability case about a car with an exploding gas tank.
You will see one of the rarities in the oligarchs' cinema: an actual depiction of how the car company refers the defect to the bean counter division. They conclude, in a secret memo, that it is simply cheaper to leave the dangerous defect alone and deal with the lawsuits from the few survivors' families. The memo is the fulcrum about which the court case revolves. The corrupt law firm 'disappears' both the memo and the engineer who wrote it. This is an interesting background, but truly, the relationship between father and daughter is the movie. Before you decide to watch it, you should decide if the resolution of this great bitterness interests you or not. I am not a big 'family conflict' guy, yet, the acting of the two leads is so excellent that I own it. The movie follows Maggie learning the great work her hated father does and, commensuably, the corrupt cruel work her fiancé and his dreadful firm do to helpless victims. The pithiest summary is: as she learns to admire the brave work for the poor her father does; she overcomes her hatred for his humiliation of her beloved mother. This is not done mawkishly, it takes the length of the entire movie. Fishburne has a great early role here, he is the force showing Maggie to see the goodness within a deeply, flawed man who needs conquests to buttress his low self-esteem.
Filled with great supporting character actors, besides Fishburne, also: Rubes and Moffat who are both excellent. I recommend it because it is against the genre that I usually enjoy. For people who like 'family conflict' movies, it is probably an eight or nine. Remember, I am an ascetic philosopher, it is slightly out of my being there. I own the movie for its central lesson: all human beings are corrupt and deeply flawed. Maggie learns to transcend her bitterness and hatred by seeing the great work Jedidiah does for poor victims of corporate greed. The movie's other great value is in showing you how cold and ruthless corporations can be. There are twists and turns I refuse to spoil for you, suffice to say, it is a father / daughter victory that reunites them. This is preceded by a painful lesson, for Maggie, about her prospective husband and his mercenary law firm. The pain of the infidelities may seem a trifle anachronistic within this zeitgeist, be warned. This is relevant for the movie focuses upon the damaged mother and the embittered, hate filled daughter. I always thought Mastrantonio was one of the most gifted of actresses. She is much better than in Scarface here, at the apex of her skills. A Good Movie You Have Likely Never Seen. Q.E.D.
"We Must Be Our Own Before We Can Be Another's." Ralph Waldo Emerson
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