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True Believer Reviews

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Super Reviewer

July 30, 2011
A defense attorney with a ludicrous pony tail defends a man accused of murder.
I'm surprised by the critics' positive reviews of this thoroughly unexceptional film. Most of the reviews focus on Woods's performance, but whereas his other characters' extravagant posturing seemed to fit the situation and persona, here, he simply seems unreasonable and unstable. He irrationally yells at his cohorts, spouting treatises about justice for society's less fortunate, and everything he says is right and justified, but the manner with which he says it reminds me of those pundits on television "news" who do nothing but scream at each other. His character is supposed to be a remnant from the 60s, as indicated by the pony tail wig and the pot, but there's no real exploration of his past and how that past shaped his present. And amid all the histrionics is Robert Downey Jr. who has never been more unnoticable.
As a film, this is a wholly predictable procedural with fewer surprises than the worst episode of Law and Order. The clues are all obviously placed, and the final courtroom scene is so theatrical that it defies all believability.
Overall, after I read positive reviews of a film I didn't like, I normally reconsider my star rating, but True Believer was too poorly constructed and too pedestrian as a whole.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

January 23, 2011
I don't think anyone could prance around in an outrageous gray ponytail besides James Woods. He plays a very unique type of hippie lawyer that I don't think i've ever seen before. Robert Downey Jr. also gives a classic performance as a bookish new lawyer trying to do the right thing. The story is interesting in that it examines two very important topics at the time, gang violence and racism. While those are two topics that get thrown around all the time, this combines them in a very unique way.
John B

Super Reviewer

December 4, 2012
Not bad but you would expect more from Woods and Downey who have contributed to the acting canon much more effectively in other films. Consider this to be a Sunday afternoon nothing else better to do type of film.
meril l

Super Reviewer

September 16, 2008
Fun albeit forgettable. I got it for Robert, but ended up watching it for James Woods. It's a feel-good lawyer movie that doesn't go above your head but isn't completely stupid either. A few weak moments of dialogue, but otherwise not a weak script.
December 28, 2008
Needed to have Hopper as lead, but got Woods. Still a little light in the loafers, but tries to be heavy drama.
July 14, 2007
A third rate court room drama, with no feeling at all for the accused. Even Woods' usual quick snappy comebacks couldn't save this.
April 19, 2007
I like this film, a great story about 2 lawyers helping to fee an innocent man from jail for a crime he did not commit. A great drama movie that has you look more at the system.
January 21, 2007
James Woods was just wonderful in this role. He gave the character all the heart and soul that it needed to make a true believer out of me.
October 29, 2013
A solid court room drama dominated by James Woods - It reminds me of a film that came a few years before it - 'The Verdict' which was also a one man show starring Paul Newman. The cases may be completely unrelated, but the screen dominance certainly isn't. Watching both back to back would be a fun ride.
horse c.
February 22, 2013
A very good legal thriller
January 28, 2013
A great courtroom drama that almost nobody has ever heard of.
February 2, 2012
James Woods' hair is ridiculous but the rest of the movie makes up for it.
Dave J
October 4, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010

(1989) True Believer

One of the stigmas with most court shows and alot of movies is that although they're well written and some are based on actual cases, sometimes viewers would want to see down-to-earth lawyers as well! Especially this lawyer whose a chain and a pot smoker because I have actually met lawyers that act like this and "curse" until they come to the court becoming all respectable and civil again! The stereotypical notion on films and on tv is that lawyers are "always" portrayed are respectable both off and on court which means they act like perfect gentlemen on such films such as "Reversal of Fortune", "Witness To the Prosecution", "Perry Mason" and "Law and Order" and although those are great films and tv shows to watch, this stigma can also get a little tiring to see all the time as well. Here is one film that does not follow this silly trend because I believe some lawyers are pot and chain smokers and curse like heck as well, no matter how good intentions they really are! I wish more movies or on HBO could display more lawyers act like this character brilliantly acted by James Woods as Eddie Dodd and his protoge played brilliantly by a young Robert Downey JR as Roger who is still a noble associate despite his indifferences with his mentor! To explain the plot of this film is too far- fetch except that it involves squeeling to prisoners, corruption, bickering lawyers, skinheads, betrayls, double crossings, reinactments, racism, mistaken identity's, coincidences, racial profile and deaths and without brilliant writing by Wesley Strick and the acting chops of James Woods that with each viewing for as long as this film's been around since 1989 is like another new experience for me wishing for a sequel or a lawyer that consists with this kind of magnitude! Upon my first viewing, the line that stood out the most quoted by James Woods - "Everybody is guilty!, everybody"

As I had mentioned, saw this film three times already once every few years with each experience as a new one! I just wish I had given this film a higher rating except that the storyline is unbelievable but has to be seen to be believed!

3.5 out of 4
August 14, 2010
True Believer is a film about Eddie Dodd(Woods), who is a lawyer way over his glory days of being a civil rights lawyer. Dodd, who now just specializes on drug cases, picks up a new kid named Roger Baron(Downey Jr.) who is fresh out of schooling and is ready to dive right in and become a lawyer. A family then comes into Dodd's office begging for Dodd to be their lawyer for their boy, Shu Kai Kim(Okumoto), who they believe was framed and is innocent. After some serious convincing from Roger, Dodd finally takes on a case worth while after 10 years. Only problem is that all the facts point at Kim and it's up to Roger and Dodd to go against the odds....

True Believer is an amazing courthouse drama. Penned in a manner that has twists and surprises at the end of every turn. The film would be at a much higher rating but it suffers from some serious plot holes. Still, the film is more than enjoyable thanks to the great sub plots and how they all tie together. Also, the dialogue and intense arguments pack that much more of a powerful punch in the courtroom scenes.

In most courthouse dramas, the tension is thick but it can get repetitive, the film steers clear of that and can maintain it's tension without getting mundane. This is a factor that truly made me enjoy the film because most courthouse dramas seem to be stuck on repeat or loses it's steam but the writing and powerful performances give you sweaty palms throughout the entire film.

Also, speaking of powerful performances, James Woods' energy as a hard headed lawyer who is very persistent jumps off the screen and truly shocks you. Whether it be him jumping around the courtroom with raw emotion or whether it be his snoopy detective attitude outside of the courtroom, he delivers an unbelievably powerful performance. To help pack even more of a punch, Downey Jr. definitely adds the witty and humorous side of the film. Don't worry though, he still has a good amount of serious parts. The movie flows so well thanks to Downey Jr. and Woods' performance along with such an amazing supporting cast.

Overall, the movie at times can be hard to indulge thanks to the plot holes but please don't turn off the screen just yet. The movie in it's entirety will blow you away thanks to the surprises and twists. The film definitely plays mind games with the viewer and has you switching your verdict on the inmate thanks to some powerhouse performances and just great overall story telling. Some say juggling too many sub plots can ruin a movie but when it's done right, it's that much more rewarding. Definitely check this film out!!

Wade-O-Meter: 80%---> 80%
Danny O.
August 11, 2009
This film was a very hard gem to find, thankfully You tube had this, isn't technology incredible.

Burnt-out civil rights lawyer James Woods's career has devolved into defense for known drug dealers. But he gets a shot at redemption when a starry-eyed legal assistant (Robert Downey Jr.) goads him into taking the case of an innocent man who's spent 8 years in jail for a murder he didn't commit.

Not many people know about this film and it's one of the most unknown courtroom dramas of all-time. Much of the suspense in this film is very much based on the stroy itself, it starts out as a normal case with a normal start then starts to spiral into a story of twists and turns that are fully entertaining and thrilling at the same time.

The real strength of True Believer is the amazing performance from James Woods. You can feel him struggle with the case in all and then start to struggle with winning it. He's so able to put a spin on things, he doesn't play the same character throughout the whole film. He changes how he acts depending on how the case goes and you can just feel the frustration and anger that he has towards this case. Also a young Robert Downey Jr. does a reasonable job at Woods' crony, but it's certainly not one of his best.

There are some problems I had with this film. I have seen the trailer for this film many of times before I saw this and I feel like the editing was very rushed. I say this because many of the scenes from the trailer were not in the film and I felt like the editing was rushed just so they could get the movie out there. Also the film felt like a courtroom TV show. With the cheesy music, episodic feel, and compelling made-for-TV story. I just think I didn't feel like I was watching a big-time film.

The courtroom scenes are very compelling and although there aren't many they are great and create a sense of anger in the air. Most of the anger is directed right from the performance of James Woods.

Consensus: True Believer is a story you have seen before but the way James Woods puts a twist on it, it is surely an underrated great watch.

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