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A Time to Kill
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A Time to Kill More at IMDbPro »

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127 out of 177 people found the following review useful:

..most people missed the point the movie is not present-day..

10/10
Author: fimimix from United States
1 May 2006

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......

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91 out of 121 people found the following review useful:

Pretty Strong.

Author: tfrizzell from United States
6 July 2002

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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60 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

I was surprised this movie was this good after reading the book.

8/10
Author: Mr. Leslie Howard Spaiser (leslie@spaiser.net) from United States
30 August 2000

I was very much drawn into the book, and thought that it would be hard to get the same feeling out in a movie.

At the beginning I thought I was right. From the beginning I was thinking "they left out a whole mess of details." I was irritated that they did not develop the characters better like in the book.

But by the 3rd quarter of the movie this was the last thought in my mind. And by the end I understood that the screenwriter had very skillfully budgeted his (limited) screen time for the most important parts of the movie, where it is well spent.

I think the acting of the principals was very good, and I found especially for Sandra Bullock as Ellen Roark - who was the most believable character. Although the rest of the acting was very good, I felt she was the most believable.

Which raises the main weakness of the movie, as good as it was, having read the book, I could not help being reminded that most of the characters were in fact, actors in a movie. Except for Ms. Bullock, there was a bit of woodeness to the "folk" in this small southern town. Also the plot is a bit contrived (but true to the novel). Most important is that (for me) it worked. I was moved. Its a very good movie.

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67 out of 91 people found the following review useful:

Very well done

Author: Clever Jones from Montreal
17 April 2001

I'm not sure why I didn't see this film when it came out, but I watched it for the first time last week and was blown away. "A time to kill" is not only very well done, but it shows the way racism is dealt with in an intertesting way. Every character is not only well developed, but the actors playing them make it totally believable.

Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson, who remain two of the finest American actors are definetly one of the best parts of the film. I'm not really sure how this film was received when it was released, but I consider it to be one of the most well done films I've seen recently.

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56 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

An entertaining spectacle with a nice comment on justice

8/10
Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
22 May 2005

Courtroom dramas are well known for providing thrilling films, and that is exactly what 'A Time to Kill' thrives on; entertainment value. It is clear that the film, in spite of having some very potent themes, puts most of it's focus on being entertaining and it's actually not a bad film for it. Sometimes, films that want to be entertaining and have themes fall down because they're too entertaining and the themes get left by the wayside; but A Time to Kill puts its cards on the table from the start, and it's always clear what this film wants to do with itself. The plot follows a man who, after his daughter is raped and almost murdered, decides to take the law into his own hands. However, this man is also a black man living in a white supremacy state, and so the film injects a racism theme into it's plot, which is always going to mean that it will have some sort of social commentary within it. However, that isn't the most interesting comment that the film wants to make; as that plaudit falls to the idea of justice, and exactly what justice is.

The film, based on a novel by crime writer John Grisham, presents an impossible situation to the viewer and central characters; what do you do when justice will prevail whatever the verdict? The viewer and the characters must then make a choice between the law and general morality, and it is there where the film draws it's most interesting plot point from. While, as mentioned, it's always clear that this movie is meant to entertain you; it's always nice to be given something to think about as well. A Time to Kill benefits immensely from an absolutely fabulous cast, which includes the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Kiefer Sutherland, his father Donald Sutherland, Ashley Judd, Chris Cooper and more, all of which are lead by Matthew McConaughey. It is the lead that most lets the film down, as although McConaughey can definitely act, he's not quite charismatic enough to deliver a lead performance in front of that cast. Still, the movie is definitely very decent and although you probably wont hurt your brain watching it, it will entertain you.

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49 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

The best movie I had seen in ten years! One of the ten best I've ever seen!

10/10
Author: Gwendylan from United States
8 October 2006

This movie dealt with such a deplorable subject.. such a sickening act, without so much as one single gratuitously violent scene in the whole perfectly realised masterpiece.

It's a chilling, thought-provoking, hard-hitting piece that's taut, absorbing, and impeccably well-paced.

There are jaw-dropping performances by numerous top-flight actors here, not a-one letting the ball drop even once. Not one actor's time or talents were wasted in this extremely well thought-out project.. not one actor wasted a cent of the money we paid to see it.

Matthew McConaughey's "Jake Brigance" was an incredibly lucky shot of an acting debut that he took and ran with like the wind, turning in an amazing, heart-stopping, truly star-making performance, which may prove to be the crowning achievement of his entire career when all is said and done.. It will be a treacherous climb to try and top it, certainly.

Class act Donald Sutherland is superbly cast in a quiet, and profound role, as "Jake"'s, {now no longer practicing}, professor, a perfect fit, this role, for a man of such rare eloquence~ There is a sizzling sub-story going on between "Jake", a devoted family man, and Sandra Bullock's character that could not have been tighter, steamier, nor more well written and played out.

I recommend this movie to anyone who believes in justice, who has a child, or only knows one.

You want cheap, tawdry, sleazy, violent 'entertainment'? There's not one thing here for you~

Killing cannot be considered "right" by any means; but sometimes it's just not as simple as "THOU SHALT NOT KILL".

So many of us say, "I would kill for my children, {or other loved one's}!".. but would we? ..Would we be in the "right"?

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59 out of 97 people found the following review useful:

Take A TIME TO WATCH this movie !!

10/10
Author: bibi-3 from Dominican Republic
1 January 1999

One of the best dramas I've seen.

Great performances from Samuel Jackson, Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey.

I've seen this movie four times and each time I see it, his closing speech has made me cry loudly.

I highly recommend it. You won't regret it.

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37 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Here's a tough revenge film that tells it like it is.

9/10
Author: FISHER L. FORREST (fisherforrest@sprintmail.com) from JACKSONVILLE, OREGON, USA
16 October 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This tough filming of Grisham's novel about a black man's revenge for the brutal rape of his daughter by whites might lead one to some maxims for guidance of anyone in such a situation. Don't wait for the law to help when you know it won't. But, if you act on your own, be prepared for the worst. Don't always assume that someone different is automatically your enemy. That's racist mentality no matter from which end of the color spectrum you are observing. There are probably others one might deduce. This is a powerful and thought provoking film, well acted and produced. It puts the KKK in a true perspective as a bunch of neo-nazi thugs, and, mirabile dictu, there are no "obligatory sex scenes", at least not in the version I saw. My only cavil is the "happy" ending. It seems unlikely in the given environment, but then again maybe not.

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43 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

Contrived and heavy-handed

4/10
Author: segacs from Montreal, Canada
26 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A Time To Kill is based on John Grisham's first novel, the one he wrote before he was famous, and the one that didn't skyrocket him to fame. (That would be accomplished by "The Firm"). That's why this movie didn't get made until much later, after Grisham was off churning out meaningless books with the movie dollar signs fresh in his head. Unlike most of those, this book was actually about something. It had meat, it had weight, and it had heart.

But it also had a fatal flaw, and this fatal flaw gets translated into the movie. Namely, "A Time To Kill" sets you up.

Here we have a black man (Jackson), on trial for the murder of two white men who brutally raped and tortured his 10-year-old daughter. We have an underdog lawyer (McConaughey) battling the big bad system to save his client. And oh, by the way, the whole thing is set against the backdrop of racism in Mississippi, complete with hooded KKK men burning crosses.

In other words, we're supposed to sympathize with Carl Lee Hailey. We're supposed to believe that a father who loves his daughter is justified in killing the men who raped her. We're supposed to feel the injustice of a system where a racist all-white jury could judge a black man who was just trying to avenge a brutal crime. We're supposed feel like we're standing alongside the people chanting "Free Carl Lee".

But the racism issue is a smokescreen, and the whole thing is contrived. Carl Lee Hailey was a vigilante. Yes, there were mitigating circumstances for what he did, but the fact remains that he wasn't innocent. This would have been true no matter what his skin colour, or the skin colour of the assailants of his daughter, the judge, the jury, or anyone else.

And what's so heavy-handed about this film is that it paints anyone who believes Carl Lee should have been convicted is a racist. The message seems to be that if you believe that the law shouldn't be taken into people's own hands, then you might as well be burning crosses on a lawn somewhere wearing a hood.

This isn't the first time a heavy dose of sentimentalism is inserted into a story like this, and it won't be the last. As a movie, A Time To Kill stays pretty faithful to the book, and the acting isn't half bad. But it played the hand it had been dealt, really. Even a good cast can't elevate bad source material.

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38 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding actors, timeless story, a must-see!

9/10
Author: madricci (madricci@web.de) from Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany
30 October 2006

For me this is actually one of the best movies I've ever seen, not only 'cause of the great performances of all main- and supporting actors, but most of it all because of the message and the feelings it gave me while I was watching it and even still gives me. People are watching movies for the same reason they listen to music or look at paintings, they wanna feel. We all have to come along with people of different colors, nationalities and whatever. The best and most peaceful way to do that, like it's mentioned in the movie, is to listen to our hearts, which for me is the message that the director and screenplay-writer wanted to bring along. I hope I got the message, on any account it made me cry several times which is a thing not many movies have achieved yet. For me as a German who dealt a lot with the history of his own country and also a little with the history of the Ku-Klux-Clan, it was good to see that those people are shown as just what they are: A bunch of mind-sick, dumb and dangerous Nazis. The whole situation in the movie in my opinion stands at the appropriate rate to reality of that time in the south of the United States,what makes it very authentic and traceable. The reason I call it a timeless story although it's certainly set in a special time is that everyone is almost forced to think, at least subconsciously, about the way he or she is dealing with those problems of difference that are always gonna exist. I highly recommend this movie but I will not say enjoy or have fun 'cause you won't find these things in "A time to kill". I also love the title 'cause when you think about it, everyone can become a murderer in the right circumstances. But what you're gonna find is a captivating story, acting on its highest level and strong emotions.

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