TRIAL BY JURY is a thriller first and a courtroom drama second.
It stars Armand Assante as the smooth talking, smooth dressing, classic
wiseguy , a.k.a. Mafia boss. The district attorney played by Garbriel
Byrne wants in the worse way possible to convict him. In a long trial
that dominates the first three quarters of the movie, a juror (Joanne
Whalley-Kilmer) is tampered with by Assante's people. The small time
bad guy who works for Assante and does most of the actual tampering is
played by William Hurt. All of these facts and much more including, I
am sorry to report, a key twist at the end of the show you can learn by
seeing the trailers as I have done already on 4 or 5 occasions.
Now, I ask you. Does this sort of sound like a formula plot?
Right you are and therein lies the major flaw in the film, the script.
It is straight out of Script Writing 101. In the first three quarters
it has characters do very predictable things and do them s-l-o-w-l-y.
Many actions were not thought through by the writer, e.g., a woman who
is frightened and threaten with death walks into her dark apartment and
is in no hurry in turning on the light. This is only one of the small
problems with the film's believability.
I did not believe the characters during the first three quarters.
Just a bunch of actors reading formula dialog. In the last quarter, it
just flat got ridiculous. I did not believe it at all. Major
suspension of disbelief is necessary to stay a believer till the end.
The William Hurt character was another problem. He was miscast in
his role, and the role was not written well or very bright. What a
waste of a great actor.
What the movie has going for it is two terrific looking leads in
Assante and Whalley-Kilmer. Their looks and their acting I always find
interesting. Actually, I knew the show was in major trouble when a
brief love scene involving Whalley-Kilmer, whom I think is one of the
prettiest women on the planet, started to bore me and found me looking
at my watch.
Even small details like Assante's clothing provided intriguing
images. Finally, I must admit, that I love jury trial scenes even
poorly done ones. They fascinate me.
Copyright © 1994 Steve Rhodes