A Time to Kill (1996)

Samuel L. Jackson doing more upstaging than ever.

When two white men brutally rape a young black girl in a small Mississippi town, the child’s vengeful father (Samuel L. Jackson) fears their acquittal and takes the law into his own hands. But as his trial date approaches, all hell breaks loose. Aided by lawyer Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) and his spunky legal assistant (Sandra Bullock), the father fights to stay out of prison and salve his daughter’s terrible memories.

A Time To Kill introduces some obvious material and introduces characters we have all seen before. But instead the movie has the way of taking the ordinary and spinning these characters into a very believable story and characters.

Much of the story seems like a typical courtroom drama but doesn’t fall too short for the courtroom cliches. The screenplay is very witty and smart and does fully capture the essence and the feel of John Grisham’s novel. I also did enjoy how I could feel the tension that lied in between the town, between the KKK and the African Americans. It felt real and with almost every scene there was something always new to reignite this feud and it added more of a feel.

The performances turn this film around for the best. Matthew McConaughey, plays probably one his best roles that have could’ve been laughable, but is very believable with his utterly strong but sane performance. Samuel L. Jackson upstages everyone in this film and plays a different person. He’s not the tough S.O.B you knew him in all his others, he’s actually kind and does feel regret towards his actions and were able to feel his emotion coming through his performance.

By the end of the film though it started to feel like this film was a little too cornball. Matthew’s speech by the end of the film felt too forced and very obvious along with the end result which feels like it was not very believable.

The story is a theme on the great separation between whites and blacks, and I felt like this was brought out very well if it weren’t for some of the clan scenes. I did like their feud I just didn’t feel it was too needed to create a huge feud and the extra violence was put in just to be put in.

Consensus: The strong and convincing performances, along with a clever script make this film good but at times falls for the obvious cliches all courtroom dramas have.


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