A Time to Kill

Year: 1996
Production Co: Regency Enterprises
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Joel Schumacher
Producer: Akiva Goldsman
Writer: Akiva Goldsman/John Grisham
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L Jackson, Oliver Platt, Donald Sutherland, Chris Cooper, Kurtwood Smith, Kevin Spacey, Keifer Sutherland, Ashley Judd, John Diehl

The most interesting thing about this early John Grisham adaptation is that at the time Sandra Bullock was a bigger star than anyone else in the cast so she got top billing even though Matthew McConaughey's part was much more substantial.

Director Schumacher waves a deft hand through Grisham's tale of small town black father Carl (Jackson) put on trial for the revenge killing of the white rednecks who attacked and raped his young daughter.

Given the task of sorting the mess out is up and coming lawyer Jake (McConaughey, back when he acted instead of took his shirt off to flash his pecs and spent the night after shoots screwing local chicks).

He assembles an oddball team around himself that includes a promising new graduate (Bullock), a has-been alcoholic (Sutherland) and an inveterate ladies man (Platt).

With community opinion starting to side with Carl, a large contingent of local racists stoke enough racist fear mongering to form an enlivened Ku Klux Klan, and suddenly the heroes will have much more than the law to battle as attacks and threats start to destabilise their efforts.

It's good writing well acted, has a satisfying conclusion and addresses an issue. It didn't need anything special in the direction and Schumacher doesn't do anything unexpected that detracts from the strength of the story.

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