One approaches a movie based on a John Grisham thriller much the same as one approaches a Grisham novel. The expectations are for quick, disposable entertainment - light on character development and thematic material, but heavy on plot and suspense. In a book, it's Grisham's prose that drives the material and keeps the reader going for "just one more chapter" before taking a break. In a movie, that's the director's job. Unfortunately, in Runaway Jury, Gary Fleder fails at the task. This is an uneven motion picture that often remains static before lurching forward. Fleder fails to generate much in the way of momentum or tension, and, in a movie of this nature, that's a significant flaw.
Nick Easter (John Cusack) is an apparently reluctant juror on one of the most significant civil trials ever to hit the New Orleans court system. A widow is suing a major gun manufacturer for damages because her husband was killed during a rampage by a man using their product. Both sides have the best attorneys: crusader Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) represents the widow and high-priced Durwood Cable (Bruce Davison) is on hand for the defendants. The gun company has retained the services of big-time jury consultant Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman), whose job is to stock the jury with men and women who will be sympathetic to a firearms producer. Rohr goes primarily on instinct.
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