Down 109 this week

A Time to Kill (1996)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  24 July 1996 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 92,801 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 232 user | 69 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

A young lawyer defends a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the K.K.K.



(novel), (screenplay)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A defense attorney has a crisis of conscience when he represents a wealthy client who has a foolproof plan to beat the system.

Director: Brad Furman
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In a desperate attempt to prove his innocence, a skilled police negotiator accused of corruption and murder takes hostages in a government office to gain the time he needs to find the truth.

Director: F. Gary Gray
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse
The Client (1994)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young boy who witnessed the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney to protect him when the district attorney tries to use him to take down a mob family.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro
Runaway Jury (2003)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A juror on the inside and a woman on the outside manipulate a court trial involving a major gun manufacturer.

Director: Gary Fleder
Stars: John Cusack, Rachel Weisz, Gene Hackman
Outbreak (1995)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Extreme measures are necessary to contain an epidemic of a deadly airborne virus. But how extreme, exactly?

Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A woman framed for her husband's murder suspects he is still alive; as she has already been tried for the crime, she can't be re-prosecuted if she finds and kills him.

Director: Bruce Beresford
Stars: Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A law student uncovers a conspiracy, putting herself and others in danger.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Sam Shepard
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A woman suffering from amnesia begins to recover her memories after trouble from her past finds her again.

Director: Renny Harlin
Stars: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Yvonne Zima
Sleepers (1996)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized; over 10 years later, they get their chance for revenge.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Brad Pitt
Primal Fear (1996)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

Director: Gregory Hoblit
Stars: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Edward Norton
8MM (1999)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A private investigator is hired to discover if a "snuff film" is authentic or not.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.

Director: Tim Robbins
Stars: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky


Cast overview, first billed only:
Carla Brigance
Tonya Hailey (as RaéVen Larrymore Kelly)
Darrin Mitchell ...
Skip Hailey
LaConte McGrew ...
Slim Hailey


In Canton, Mississippi, 10-year-old Tonya Hailey is viciously brutalized by two white racist rednecks -- James Louis "Pete" Willard and Billy Ray Cobb. Almost immediately after Tonya is found and rushed to a hospital, Pete and Billy Ray are found at a roadside bar, where they had been bragging about what they did to Tonya. Tonya's understandably distraught and enraged father, Carl Lee Hailey, remembers a case from a year ago, when four white men raped an African-American girl in a nearby town, and got acquitted. Carl is determined to not let that happen in this case. While deputy Dwayne Powell Looney is escorting Pete and Billy Ray up a flight of stairs to a court room, Carl emerges from the building's basement with an assault rifle, and he kills Pete and Billy Ray for what they did to Tonya. Carl is later arrested at his house by African-American sheriff Ozzie Walls, and Carl is scheduled to be placed on trial. Despite the efforts of the NAACP and local African-American leaders to ... Written by Todd Baldridge

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A lawyer and his assistant fighting to save a father on trial for murder. A time to question what they believe. A time to doubt what they trust. And no time for mistakes.


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and some graphic language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 July 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tiempo de matar  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$19,630,000 (USA) (26 July 1996)


JPY 419,223,800 (Japan) (24 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Woody Harrelson wanted to play Jake Brigance, but author John Grisham objected to his casting. See more »


When Ellen and Jake officially meet for the first time outside of Jake's office building, Jake asks Ellen what brings her to Canton. Ellen replies that it was Carl Lee Hailey that brought her to town. But in fact Ellen came to town for the arraignment of the rapist Billy Ray Cobb and James Louis Willard, before she would have known who Carl Lee Hailey was. See more »


Sheriff: [to rapists] If I get any trouble outta you guys, I'm gonna integrate this jail.
See more »


Featured in The Oprah Winfrey Show: Summer Movie Reviews (1996) See more »


Take My Hand Precious Lord
Written by Thomas A. Dorsey
Produced by Matthew Johnson and Bruce Watson
Performed by The Jones Sisters
Courtesy of Fat Possum Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

..most people missed the point the movie is not present-day..
1 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I had to stop reading the commentaries, because some people thought they were attorneys and rambled-on about injustice. My Friends, in the era this film is about, none of the story would be unusual. There are prejudices much worse even now - I was amazed that one person actually compared this wonderful film to "Crash": give the world a break!! If "Crash"...Ugh!...proved anything, is was to reassure EVERYONE racism is still America's cancer.

I am from Biloxi, Mississippi - along the Gulf Coast. That city has always been a melting-pot, so many different races live together. In my youth, it was Czechs and other European races. Today, can you believe, it is Vietnamese ! The city has also always been a tourist-area, and always had some form of gambling before it became The Las Vegas of the South - perhaps that has tempered the people there from the state's interior's citizens. Canton - during the '60s - would have been just as it is portrayed in this film.

Because of the many TV-courtroom sitcoms, etc., today's population would wonder why there was no strongly-worded assurance the district attorney planned "to appeal". What? We are not talking about modern-day justice in this film - Shamefully, this is Mississippi at its worst, and I know about that. We didn't have this kind of racism in Biloxi then, perhaps because African-Americans "stayed in their place", a shameful statement if there ever were one. All the foreigners and citizens of other states who are not aware of those days - how can you comment on the film, except to give a critique ? Like many of the people who wrote commentaries, I can watch this film once-a-month. ALL of the cast gave a superb performance; the story did not drag; the places that were filmed were true-to-life; to some folk's surprise, there ARE people who live in the state who do not speak like idiots: people think I'm English!; Mathew Mc was astounding and Sandra Bullock's performance was exactly as it should have been, as an activist "little rich girl"; Southern gave a true performance of a alcoholic lawyer; Sam Jackson was masterful and expressed the difference in being "white" and "black"; Kevin Stacy's portrayal of a Southern lawyer with all the connections, right on; I can think of no one who wasn't brilliantly cast.

Missed by many people who made comments, this film is a statement that today we are brutally MEAN to one another: "Crash" re-states this fact, although it is not nearly as poetic. Do I own this film? You betcha!! I'll most likely have to buy another, and it will be money well-spent. Grishom knows how to get our attention, and "A Time to Kill" clearly demonstrates all who were involved in its making were determined to keep his story pure. Wake-up, People - many parts of our world are not pretty today......

115 of 161 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Matthew M. Character should've hooked up with Sandra Bullock dutchlevin69
Do you think they deserved to die?! stenlis
Aquittal Not as Far Fetched as everyone thinks... Proof included. BitterHateFilledMovieGuy
'I would have done the same thing' cameron-whyte
Swedish parody of this movie (and American south in general) okram666
ending bv-j
Discuss A Time to Kill (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: