A Time to Kill

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  • John Grisham’s bestseller A Time to Kill hits the screen with incendiary force, directed by Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, The Client). Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey portray the principals in a murder trial that brings a small Mississippi town’s racial tensions to the flashpoint. Amid a frenzy of activist marches, Klan terror, media clamor and brutal rio

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John Grisham’s bestseller A Time to Kill hits the screen with incendiary force, directed by Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, The Client). Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey portray the principals in a murder trial that brings a small Mississippi town’s racial tensions to the flashpoint. Amid a frenzy of activist marches, Klan terror, media clamor and brutal riots, an unseasoned but idealistic young attorney mounts a stirring courtroom ba… More >>

A Time to Kill

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5 Comments
  1. Close your eyes and imagine have KKK doesn’t oppose with violance court’s decision to free Afro-American from charges of killing two white people. Now imagine how Afro-American plans and kills two white idiots and then cries to his lawyer that he mut stay away from proison so he could support his family. Is it enough ? In short, ridicilous nonsense.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  2. At the time this movie came out, I went to see it, didn’t care for it, but couldn’t quite figure out why. After seeing it again recently, it hit me. This movie is patronizing and in a subtle way, quite racist. The story set up is so unquestionable that one is left with only one conclusion – that Sam Jackson’s character was justified and hence, should go free. There is no doubt at the beginning of the movie that those two potbellied, white-trash looking guys raped his daughter in the back of their stars and bars pickup truck (I bet they were also into NASCAR). Never mind that they didn’t get a fair trial or that Jackson shot a deputy while taking his revenge on them. But, you know, ‘if it was my daughter, I’d do the same thing’, says the deputy – so Jackson is forgiven and the jury acquits – especially after hearing the defense attorney’s impassioned plea to picture the little girl as white. And of course, everybody has known each other since they were kids – that’s the way it is in these small towns of the south you know… Oh, and don’t forget the KKK is in there to threaten the white defense attorney’s sexy wife, child and friends. And, there’s a sexy, bleeding heart, white college girl who comes to town to help out with the defense (but also to create a half baked love triangle for Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Ashley Judd – what beautiful white actors!) There is more, but basically the black actors are in passive roles – the outcome of the trial is in white hands all the way, the prosecution, defense, judge and jury. (Can one really say that a condemned black man would be acquitted in such circumstances?) Samuel Jackson’s character sits in jail most of the movie. Charles Dutton’s sheriff basically does his dutiful best for the white cast. A Time to Kill doesn’t really say anything meaningful about the conflict of racism. So, what story would I have liked to see? First, eliminate the Bullock character completely. Then have the script leave in doubt as to who raped Jackson’s little girl. That would give Charles Dutton’s sheriff something to investigate, after his first suspects have been killed by Jackson’s character. When the Sheriff discovers that some other white guys raped the little girl, then he has a problem and a major part of the story hinges on how he wants to handle the situation. Will he choose to let the court know about his discovery which would probably lead to a guilty verdict or will he keep silent on the chance that Jackson might go free, knowing that Jackson killed two innocent men? And who are the actual rapists? Are they local (members of the KKK maybe, a member of the prosecution)? Does the defense attorney know the truth? Does he try to hide it in the name of winning the case? How will the discovery affect the town after the verdict is rendered? That would have been a film to watch and would have generated a lot of discussion centering around the question of ‘What should the sheriff have done?’ I know there are a lot of people out there who like this movie. I mean no disrespect – in fact – I would recommend watching the movie again – keeping my POV in mind. Perhaps you will see the potential of what this movie could have been.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  3. Am I missing something? Please write and tell me if I am, because I can’t understand why people admire this movie. As far as I can tell, this is what happens in “A Time To Kill”: Carl Lee’s daughter is raped and left for dead, and her white tormentors are captured. Before they face trial, Carl kills them. Why? They would not be convicted, because as we all know a white southern jury couldn’t possibly set aside its racism. Carl is then acquitted by a white southern jury that sets aside its racism. The film urges us to celebrate this verdict as some kind of race-relations watershed. But beneath the back-slapping, soaring music and soft focus, the take home message is this: “There is a time to kill. If you think the justice system won’t give you justice, then revenge killing is a noble option.” Not only is this one of most appallingly idiotic dictums ever conceived, it betrays an appreciation of the justice system which is, at best, infantile.

    Let’s apply a little common sense here. What the white rapists did was wrong, and they should be punished for it. What the black father did was wrong, and he should be punished for it, too. Cases closed. Yes, we can empathize with Carl. Yes, put in the same position we might even do the same thing ourselves. No, that doesn’t make it right. Even if you think Carl was rightly acquitted, the film defeats its own argument: the fact that Jake Brigance gets a white jury to recognise and set aside its inherent racism (“now imagine she’s white”) demonstrates that Carl’s fears were unjustified. There was no need to take the law into his own hands after all – a black man can get justice from a white court. However, I think a more realistic interpretation of the outcome is that a dumb jury can be sweet-talked by a pretty-boy lawyer into acquitting a guilty man they feel sorry for. And what kind of ‘justice’ is that? Don’t ask screenwriter Akiva Goldsman – this is just another one of his sci-fi scripts. Nor director Joel Schumacher – here, as in his equally insulting “Batman” films, he seems more interested in visually molesting his male star than in telling a decent story, and clearly spent most of his time contriving ways to get Matthew McConaughey’s shirt off or setting up lingering butt shots.

    This film was pitched as an exciting suspense-thriller, nicely cast with a mix of heavy-weights and newcomers, and having the guts to explore some serious social and moral issues. For me, it’s a vile and contemptible little film peddling an equally repulsive morality. What the hell Spacey, Bullock and the Sutherlands are doing here is beyond me. It’s a blot on all their resumes. Go back to your old job as a window dresser, Joel. On the evidence of this film, pretty and pretentious facades are what you’re best at.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  4. this is the best movie ive ever seen!! i watch it all the time!! matthew mcconaughey is definitely the FINEST MAN ALIVE!!! he does an awesome job at playin’ the very good-lookin’ jake brigance on this movie! sandra bullock is also my favorite actress so this is the perfect movie for me!! it was filmed in canton, mississippi which is about 8 miles from where i used to live!! if youve never seen this movie, you’re missin’ more than you realize!! I LOVE MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY!!
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. I found this DVD very confusing. Not the film. Just the DVD. For starters, it’s 143 minutes long, and it doesn’t say anywhere on the DVD case that it’s half the film on one side of the disc, and half the film on the other. Guess who started watching the second half of the film without realising?! You would have thought the fact it starts abruptly and there’s no credit should have warned me! (Does it sound even more stupid that I understood the second half of the film like it was a stand alone film?!)

    There’s an all star cast in this, and the main reason I bought this was because of Sandra Bullock, and then put off watching it for ages. I saw The Firm years ago (Tom Cruise phase), but it was garbage. So I wasn’t looking forward to another John Grisham novel turned into a movie. What this movie really lacks is any cute guys. I’m sorry but Matthew McConaughey with all the curly hair does nothing for me! Also included in the cast are: Samuel L. Jackson (in a mesmerising role: “Yes, they deserve to die, and I hope they burn in Hell!!!”), Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt (doing some serious backcombing), Brenda Fricker, Donald Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland (imagine an extension of his role in Phone Booth, except worse – a real nasty piece of work), and Ashley Judd. Strangely enough, most of these actors are severely underused: Sandra’s top billing, but is underbilled, and does little more than look pretty and turn up for no reason. Ashley Judd is sent away so her hubby & Sandra can get it on. Kevin Spacey yells “Objection your honour!” a lot and not much else, in a case that he had no chance of winning anyway.

    The sterotypical Southern town is well overdone. There’s no mention of the fact that they could have air conditioning, instead of looking all hot & sweaty most of the time. Most of the time, you get the feeling the entire film is trying to be racist, ignorant and exploitive. I’m sure Joel Schumacher could have thought of something more imaginative than throwing the Ku Klux Klan in for a couple of scenes.

    I doubt I would recommend this movie to anyone. It’s watchable, but that’s about it, and is heavily focussed on racism and segregation. If you get easily offended by racists, then this is not for you. But Matthew McConaughey’s end speech was by far his best moment ever on screen and definitely the best moment of the whole film.
    Rating: 3 / 5

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