5.7/10
3,239
23 user 19 critic

Criminal Law (1988)

A lawyer defends a killer, but soon after he wins, he finds out that the killer is guilty.

Director:

Martin Campbell

Writer:

Mark Kasdan
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Oldman ... Ben Chase
Kevin Bacon ... Martin Thiel
Tess Harper ... Det. Stillwell
Karen Young ... Ellen Faulkner
Joe Don Baker ... Det. Mesel
Sean McCann Sean McCann ... Jacob Fischer
Ron Lea ... Gary Hull
Michael Sinelnikoff ... Prof. Clemens
Karen Woolridge Karen Woolridge ... Claudia Curwen (as Karen Wooldridge)
Ali Giron ... Isabel Fuertes
Rob Roy Rob Roy ... Ethan Parks
Terrence Labrosse Terrence Labrosse ... Judge (as Terrence La Brosse)
Barbara Jones Barbara Jones ... Sandra Massina (as Barbara Ann Jones)
Jeannie Walker Jeannie Walker ... Mrs. Monroe
Tyrone Benskin ... Jackson
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Storyline

A rising young attorney successfully defends a man accused of murder, only to have the same type of murder then happen again. Right away the previously defended man hires the attorney again, and although the attorney is quite certain that he is the killer, he agrees to again defend him... much to the consternation of his friends. However, he explains that by being his attorney he will be better able to catch the man in a mistake... and on this the rest of the film develops, with the killer playing a cat and mouse game with the attorney until, at last, they both must recognize that they are not all that different. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A killer is back on the streets. The only one who can stop him is the lawyer who set him free. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 April 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Frauenmörder See more »

Filming Locations:

Québec, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$9,974,446
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of three movies featuring Gary Oldman and Kevin Bacon. The movies are Criminal Law (1988), JFK (1991), and Murder in the First (1995). See more »

Goofs

Fuel pumps display amounts in liters even though the location is supposed to be in Massachusetts. See more »

Quotes

Martin Thiel: I love the rain... it washes everything away... makes it clean.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Granada Reports: 8 August 2018: Evening Bulletin (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A big mess.
9 January 2012 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

Tangled in its superficiality, trying to be something more than just an ordinary thriller (and that's what this really is) about an psycho out of control "Criminal Law" wastes everything and everybody. Sadly, the movie couldn't warn us earlier, like 10 minutes from watching this and you would had the chance to know this might be an disaster and simply walk out of it. No, it goes quite well until the plot creates a mess bigger than the Everest and the K2 together (and director Martin Campbell, director of this, was in the latter in "Vertical Limit"), and worst, some of us want to climb it until the end but we can't. Why? Because we're not "trained" enough like the screenwriter from this flick. He and only he can decode this messy picture.

And to think of how good this could be! Gary Oldman plays an lawyer who just made his client Thiel (Kevin Bacon) free from jail, accused of rape and murder of a woman. Everybody's happy until a new wave of crimes similar to the one thrown on Thiel start off again. But this isn't like "Just Cause", the guy won't say he isn't guilty, rather than that he's gonna commit more and more murders AND will rub on his lawyer face (that lousy privilege between client and defendant) his next moves. It's up to this man to find a way to stop this criminal. Pretty exciting, isn't it?

"Criminal Law" becomes problematic when it decides to include random and uninteresting subplots about abortion, Thiel's family, and the lawyer's love interest and then it connects all of this parts together and mess it up real bad. It pretends to be real clever but it never succeeds. Take all that out and trade to saying something about ethics, difference between law and justice (they tried something about that but it wasn't enough), make a substantial dramatic film rather than 'to catch a serial killer' kind of thing and then we would have at least a decent movie, a relevant one.

By all means, this is a poorly executed film that only wasted good actors in giving them bad scenes to perform with. Being the script the worst thing of it, we must be ashamed to testify Kevin Bacon giving one of his worst performances of all, completely on the automatic pilot and ridiculous playing the villain; Oldman has good moments when he's not trying to sustain so many different accents into an American role. And why on Earth do the script have to include an strange sex scene with him awkwardly interspersed with him playing squash? Ridiculous!. Hope that the money received by them was worth it because they could've done better than this. If you enjoy both actors I'll highly recommend "JFK" and "Murder in the First" (coincidentally in all of three films their characters never get along). "Criminal Law" I can't and won't suggest.

A good idea and a wasted one. Big time! This is what happens when the hands get faster than the brain and the writer is not thinking of what's he doing. 5/10


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