Review: A Time to Kill (1996)

A Time to Kill (1996)

Directed by: Joel Schumacher | 140 minutes | crime, drama, thriller | Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt, Donald Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland, Ashley Judd, Charles S. Dutton, Brenda Fricker

Justice wins when you lose, but also when you win. This statement from a friend of attorney Jake illustrates what is unique about Carl Lee’s lawsuit. Carl Lee is being charged with murdering two men, but the reason for this murder is that these men raped his daughter and they probably wouldn’t be punished. So the question is whether Carl Lee is guilty or not. ‘A Time To Kill’ is an indictment of racism. The film angers anyone who opposes racism over the members of the Ku Klux Klan and the unjust justice system in the United States.

The storyline is very predictable, from the beginning you expect the man to kill the rapists of his daughter. As a viewer you naturally develop sympathy for the murderer. You therefore hope that the man is acquitted and that his lawyer is praised even if in reality you are against people who take the law into their own hands. The role of the Ku Klux Klan is not entirely clear to me. Every time we see members of the Klan, but actually they have nothing to do with the main story. They make it very difficult for the lawyer and his environment, but that they can be seen about a quarter of the film is an exaggeration. The film is about the man’s trial and justice, not the Klan’s activities. It is also unbelievable that the members always try to achieve something, but that it always goes wrong.

The role of law student Ellen Roark is played by Sandra Bullock, who we know from ‘Miss Congeniality’ (2000), ‘Two Weeks Notice’ (2002), ‘While you were Sleeping’ (1995) and ‘Murder by Numbers’ (2002). While Sandra Bullock usually plays the lead role in films, in this film she has convincingly played a lucrative supporting role and therefore she is clearly present in the film. The lead role in the film is played by Matthew McConaughey, who is known for films such as ‘Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1994), ‘Edtv’ (1999), ‘Angels in the Outfield’ (1994) and ‘The Wedding Planner’. (2001). McConaughey became known for his role in ‘A Time To Kill’, this was his first major role. McConaughey was offered the role by writer John Grisham, who absolutely wanted the young actor to star in the film adaptation of his novel ‘A Time To Kill’.

‘A Time To Kill’ is a beautiful compelling film and definitely worth watching. The film is not always realistic, but it certainly leaves the viewer with a good feeling, which is no longer the case in many films.

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