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A Time to Kill (1996)

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In Canton, Mississippi, a fearless young lawyer and his assistant defend a black man accused of murdering two white men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, inciting violent retribution and revenge from the Ku Klux Klan.



(novel), (screenplay)
1,858 ( 492)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
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 USA:

$19,630,000, 28 July 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the second movie in which Kiefer Sutherland and his father Donald Sutherland both had roles. The first being Max Dugan Returns (1983). See more »


At the airport, when Jake sends his family away, a UPS plane can be seen in the background. At that airport, the cargo terminals are south of the passenger terminals, and cannot be seen from the north side of the terminal (where the outside scene was set). See more »


Sheriff: Freddie Lee Cobb! We got something to talk about. Hastings, you belong over there with them.
[shoves Hastings over to Freddie]
Sheriff: Get over!
See more »


Featured in Attack of the Clones Review (2010) See more »


Ain't Got Time To Die
Traditional spiritual arranged by Randolph Watson
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Pretty Strong.
6 July 2002 | by See all my reviews

A truly tense film that takes place in present-day Mississippi. A young African-American girl has been raped by two backwoods white men. Her father (Samuel L. Jackson) takes the law into his own hands and kills the two. Now the small town becomes a hot-bed of controversy as a murder trial starts that gets national attention. There is the defense attorney (Matthew McConaughey) and his bright-eyed assistant (Sandra Bullock) against prosecutor supreme Kevin Spacey. A really solid film that works because of a screenplay that pulls no punches and revolutionary direction by Joel Schumacher. A great ensemble cast all excel here and the film captures a place that has turned into a media circus very well. A film that you will watch with clenched fists. An intense experience. 4 stars out of 5.

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