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The Pelican Brief
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The Pelican Brief More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Bodily waste is made by PEOPLE!!!!!!

Author: jessegehrig from United States
26 February 2015

Really f*cking convoluted, is what the title of my review should be, but I got class. Very few pelicans are in this movie, oh, pelicans are a type of bird, they are actually pretty cool if you research them. No pelican was paid to appear in this movie, that's the main thing I hope you take away with you from my review of this movie. A brief, as in like the title of this movie The Pelican Brief, refers to underwear, specifically men's underwear, but the only person in the movie shown wearing underwear is Julia Roberts, who is a lady, and they don't even show her underwear other than her bra! Science! I like birds, I think birds are amazing. Enclosed with this review is a hand drawn map of buried pirate treasure.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Oval office Bird Flu

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
7 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Some of the biggest men in the United States - in the fields of commerce and manufacturing - are afraid of somebody. They know that there is a power somewhere so organised, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it." – Woodrow Wilson

"The real menace of our Republic is the invisible Government which, like a giant Octopus, sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states, and nation." – John F. Hylan

"A financial element in the large centres has owned the Government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson." – Franklin D. Roosevelt

"More things in politics happen by accident or exhaustion than by conspiracy." - Jeff Greenfield

"The Pelican Brief" is another conspiracy thriller by Alan J. Pakula, a director who specialises in conspiracy movies ("Klute", "The Parallax View", "Rollover", "All the President's Men" etc). The film stars Julia Roberts as a young law student who stumbles upon a far reaching plot involving the US Government and giant oil corporations. Denzel Washington plays the journalist who helps her get the truth out.

It's Pakula's most mainstream, conventional film in this genre, and the film's obligatory action scenes are ridiculously over the top, but the director knows how to conjure up invisible menace, quiet intrigue and the horror of far reaching power. And like "All The President's Men", Pakula understands that there is an innate thrill in watching as bookish heroes quietly chase paper trails, track down leads, interview potential sources and piece together puzzles.

Unlike many conspiracy movies, "The Pelican Brief" highlights how blatantly "open" and "public" many conspiracies are, and how reliant their formations and dismantlings are on both accidents and chance. Pakula seems more interested, however, in showing how important a sheer force of will is in uncovering conspiracies. His heroes are modern incarnations of noir detectives, intrepidly carving their ways through the murk, flashlights in hand.

7.9/10 – Worth one viewing.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This 'Pelican' Needs Much More than Just Being Brief **1/2

Author: edwagreen from United States
11 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film starts off with an excellent premise. Two supreme court judges are assassinated. Naturally, we have to see what they had in common that would cause each to be murdered. The subject matter is environmental protection.

Julia Roberts, a law student, who is sleeping with law professor Sam Shepard, happens to have written her theory about why the assassinations occurred. Truth be told, she happens to be right and at that point the bodies start to mount up at a very fast rate. Even the assassin, Stanly Tucci, takes a bullet to the stomach.

It is never explained fully what the environmental problem is. However, we know that that President Robert Culp and assistant Tony Goldwyn are up to their necks in thievery.

With Shepard blown up, Roberts engages reporter Denzel Washington, Gray Grantham, to investigate. The movie becomes a one step ahead of the culprits.

Even the ending is contrived. Amazing that Roberts suddenly has all the resources to live on an island paradise. The picture is far from paradise.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"All The President's Men" wannabe is passable

Author: highwaytourist from United States
4 December 2010

When John Grisham's best-selling novel "The Firm" was filmed, it had a lot going for it, but the fell short of greatness because the screenwriters made changes to the story. As a result, the screenwriters are faithful to the Gresham's book this time, but this book wasn't as good and is filled with filler material. The movie lasts two hours and twenty minutes, and most of it is just a damsel in distress (Julia Roberts) being chased from one place to the next. A number of scenes could have been removed without taking anything from the movie, and most of the chase scenes are adequate, but nothing more. The story wasn't a bad idea at all, about two U.S. Supreme Court justices who were not ideological allies being assassinated and a law student's theory on the cause putting her life in danger. A good director (Alan Pakula) was chosen to direct and there is a worthy supporting cast. Why does the film feel so ordinary? Mainly because it's overlong and monotonous, and has nothing that hasn't been done better elsewhere. It alters between Roberts being chased by bad guys, Roberts hiding out in secret places, and mysterious bureaucrats mumbling secrets in dark corridors, like "All The President's Men" with chase scenes. It's no surprise that the film version of "All The President's Men" was directed by the same director. Because of the big budget, it's proficient in all technical aspects. The locations provide some decent local color. So for all the monotony, "The Pelican Brief" is painless and and at times mildly interesting, and there are worse ways to pass the time.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Scandal Bubbling Up Around Pelicans

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
14 February 2010

The assassination of two Supreme Court Justices in a 24 hour period would certainly be a crisis of incredible proportions for the USA. But I wonder would the solution be even more cataclysmic for the national psyche, depending on what it was.

Food for thought should you decide to watch The Pelican Brief. Now how does the state bird of Louisiana fit into the homicides of two of the Brethren? That you have to see the film for.

Paranoia is the key word of The Pelican Brief. Julia Roberts is a law student who is sleeping with her professor, Sam Shepard, who once clerked for Justice Hume Cronyn and in fact will probably be his biographer. A little bit of research on Roberts's part into the cases involving these two who were generally on opposite sides on the court gives her what she feels could be the reason and link for the killings. And pelicans actually have something to do with it.

I've heard it said that if one could just keep a cool head in a crisis, you can get out of it. Roberts writes her theory up, shows it to Shepard who in turn shares it with a friend in the FBI. Next thing you know he's blown up by a car bomb and she's running for her life. What if they had just ignored her theory?

Julia's a pretty woman in real fright and her one source of support is Denzel Washington, an investigative reporter also looking into the assassinations. No romance here, but good chemistry between the leads.

At this point with films like The Firm, The Client, The Rainmaker, John Grisham's books have a pre-sold audience. But that also places a big responsibility on the players who have to live up to the Grisham characters that his readers have come to know. I can't see how he could complain about Julia, Denzel and the rest of the cast of The Pelican Brief.

I'd pay attention also to Tony Goldwyn who in the Nineties was making a nice name for himself in villain roles like in Ghost. Goldwyn plays a really creepy White House aide to President Robert Culp. The kind of man who would have found a home with Richard Nixon. Culp's pretty good to as a president like Nixon, who has a nice scandal bubbling up around him.

A film made from a John Grisham novel with a great cast of players. What's not to like?

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A high profile Crime Story

Author: Biswajit Tripathy from India
29 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is based on a novel by John Grisham. John Grisham's movies are always based on and around lawyers and their ability to solve crimes. This story is about a law student who uncovers a conspiracy resulting in her life in danger.

I am a Fan of John Grisham and his first novel I read was The Firm. Pelican Brief is another masterpiece by John Grisham. Though I have stopped reading his novels since sometime back, but I have liked all those I read. His stories are always based on a gang vs a underdog and how the underdog always comes over the gang. Julie Roberts is also my favorite actress since Pretty Woman days.

Darby Shaw (Julia ROberts) gets to know about the murder of two high court judges and why. She gets down to research regarding the same. She writes a note regarding her knowledge about the murder accusing the President for setting up the murder. Now the government agents as well as the assassins are after her. One by one the person who are helping her are dying including her best friend. The only person she can rely now is Denzel Washington. Denzel plays a journ who wants the story.

Nice story, direction and acting by lead pairs.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Explosive Julia, Amazing!!!

Author: Danny McCabe from Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
8 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Julia Roberts gives the most explosive performance. The Pelican Brief is a thrilling, chilling story about a woman, a Law student who writes a top secret 'Brief' called the Pelican Brief, this brief is then passed on and 'somehow' gets out in the open and now they are looking for her and the person guarding her (Denzel Washington)the only man who can protect her.

'Everyone I tell the Brief about dies'

'I'll take my chances'

Now Shaw is high target to be killed.

Darby Shaw (Roberts) life is being torn apart her boyfriend is blown up in a car, and she being tracked down, Julia Roberts performance in this EXPLOSIVE film is so 'Right On The Money' she gives such a vivid performance she obtains all aspects of her performance as always, i especially took a attention to her reaction when her boyfriend is blown up in the car that's were the EXPLOSIVE act comes in.

After a few killings Darby gets more suspicious and more frightened because she is being 'stalked' to be killed the Brief is heard and she wins in the end, although she must keep hidden after this she says a long teary goodbye and emigrates near the sea to a nice secluded home with a big flowery back garden


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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Pelican Brief

Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
20 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From director Alan J. Pakula (All the President's Men, Sophie's Choice, The Devil's Own), I was mistaken into thinking for ages that this was a courtroom drama, I did however know the leading stars, so for that I had to see it. Basically two Supreme Court Justices have been killed, and young law student Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts) has stumbled across a big conspiracy about it, and writes theory documents about it, that become known as The Pelican Brief. Of course her theory has the ring of truth circling it as it passes from person to person, and soon enough she realises that she is in danger from those who want to silence her. With little help from the FBI, she decides to turn to investigative reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington), and there is a big discussion about how the brief could cause problems for an upcoming court case involving official people. The brief is most delicate because it could harm the credibility for the President of the United States, it is not made clear fully who was trying to kill them, but Darby and Gray get out of their situation and everything settles in the end. Also starring Sam Shepard as Thomas Callahan, John Heard as Gavin Vereek, Tony Goldwyn as Fletcher Coal, James B. Sikking as FBI Director Denton Voyles, William Atherton as Bob Gminski, Robert Culp as President, Stanley Tucci as Khamel, Hume Cronyn as Justice Rosenberg, John Lithgow as Smith Keen, Anthony Heald as Marty Velmano, Nicholas Woodeson as Stump, Stanley Anderson as Edwin Sneller and John Finn as Matthew Barr. Washington and Roberts together give good performances, I have seen a few conspiracy theory films, and they sometimes can be hard to follow, that was sort of the case, I couldn't make sense of absolutely everything happening, but for the shifty characters and chases, it is a reasonably worthwhile thriller. Good!

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Star power

Author: Vitaly Zhiviy ( from Rivne, Ukraine
11 January 1999

A good thing about movies made after John Grisham's novels that they have very good picks for lead actors. Same thing we can see in Firm (Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman), Client (Susan Surandon and Tommy Lee Jones), Rainmaker (Matt Damon and Danny De Vito). This time they are Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington.

Pelican Brief is the story of corruption in the highest levels of authority that leads to assassinations of two Supreme Court judges. A law student Derby Shaw (Julia Roberts) creates her own real theory of this case and, as a corollary, puts her life into a serious danger. The only person who can help her is a reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington).

I consider this movie as well-made thrilling investigation politic law story. Julia Roberts had played such a convincing character of a strong weak woman that later was recreated in the Net by Sandra Bullock. As for Denzel Washington, which is my favorite actor, he did it again. He gave a true example of a reporter, that fights for sensations, however sets the humanity and justice on the front plan. Rating is 8 out of 10.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Another classy Pakula thriller

Author: Framescourer from London, UK
1 August 2005

Another finely wrought, if complicated thriller from the man that brought us Presumed Innocent. The Grisham plot is sprawling but coherent and Pakula manages to include what must be most of it; but even if we find ourselves bewildered by the jigsaw, the tension of its coming together runs throughout the film.

Excellent performances from Washington and Roberts are buttressed on either side by a large pool of committed Hollywood support (although I can't quite get scared of Stanley Tucci's assassin). There's also a vision to the shooting of the film that includes a noble America as a ubiquitous background to the film; the protagonists are fighting in and for a benign but worthy moral backdrop that's rendered visually as well as in the plot and its script. Intelligent but mainstream – just don't' go with anyone who'll ask you what's going on every five minutes. 7/10

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