EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|GUILTY AS SIN (director: Sidney Lumet; screenwriter: Larry Cohen; cinematographer: Andrzej Bartkowiak; editor: Evan Lottman; music: Howard Shore; cast: Rebecca De Mornay (Jennifer Haines), Don Johnson (David Greenhill), Stephen Lang (Phil Garson), Jack Warden (Moe), Dana Ivey (Judge Tompkins), Luis Guzman (Lt. Martinez), Barbara Eve Harris (Kathleen Bigelow); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Martin Ransohoff; Hollywood Pictures; 1993)|
sure looks like a TV movie."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Director Sidney Lumet ("The Morning After"/"Bye Bye
Braverman"/"Gloria") has a go of
directing this unpleasant courtroom drama and flops. The main reason is
that the schlocky script by Larry Cohen is at best only ordinary, the
plot is preposterous, the
situational twists are ridiculous, the dialogue is trite, and the thriller is empty.
Its awkward pacing never builds suspense (instead it becomes
increasingly strange and actually improves a bit when we realize the Don Johnson character is a sicko homicidal
murderer masking himself as a ladies man and any chance of it being a
high-concept melodrama now get thrown off the roof). It sure looks like a TV movie, and never
improves that much to get a foothold on being a good thriller.
Haines (Rebecca De Mornay) is an
ambitious and famous Chicago
trial lawyer (shot in Toronto), who works for a
top law firm. Obsessed with winning and overly confident, she accepts as a client the obnoxious slick handsome
womanizer, GQ flashy dresser, David Greenhill (Don
Johnson), even as he initially shows his hostile side (it's laughable
to think a top law firm would take on such a client, especially when he
doesn't meet their requirements for a retainer). This egomaniac
slimeball is accused of throwing
his wealthy wife out of the high-rise building where they lived and
stands to inherit her fortune. Jennifer gets him out on bail and then
gets locked in a dangerous game of trying to match wits with her
demented client, who turns out to be a serial killer. Unable to drop her pervert client, as the
judge rules it would be too expensive for the state to start over with
a new lawyer (give me a break, this one is totally unbelievable--you
only have to tell how threatening your client is). The woman lawyer
gets the creeps over her manipulative client, who becomes threatening and she goes into
hysterical fits as a damsel-in-peril.
The gigolo lady-killer
becomes fixated on his attractive lawyer, and the vulnerable
high-powered lawyer believes that she will be his next vic. Haines is
helped by her mentor, the 72-year-old investigator, former detective,
Moe (Jack Warden), who pounds
the pavement looking for evidence of Haines' previous murders. Jennifer's boyfriend is played by Stephen
Lang, who pops up from time to time but has little to do but act
jealous and tell his gal he's with her all the way.
It's hard to feel much
sympathy for the lawyer, whose big ego is the only reason she takes on
such a nasty client.
It plays out as an inferior homage to Joe Eszterhas's 1985 courtroom thriller, "Jagged Edge."
REVIEWED ON 5/3/2011 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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