The Firm - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Firm Reviews

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½ April 1, 2018
A solid, if overlong, legal thriller undermined by pedestrian direction and a soundtrack that is constantly at odds with the visuals. Like a well presented but tasteless meal, made with the best ingredients, The Firm's total is less than the sum of its parts. A cracking premise, great script and perfect casting cannot overcome Sydney Pollack's inability to inject pace, thrills and suspense into what should have been one of the best thrillers of the 1990's. Pollack's film resume can be filed under the category of 'What If' or 'Almost a great film'. What if 'Out of Africa' had been directed by David Lean. What if a director who can create tension, such as Wolfgang Peterson, had helmed Grisham's legal thriller instead. In Pollack's defense he was a great director of actors, and every character in the film is fully realized by an amazing ensemble cast.
The film is partly saved by Cruise's ability to portray characters who are under extreme stress so well, much in the mould of Dustin Hoffman. Cruise is a screenwriters dream of an actor because he can convey so much without words, and his physicality adds impetus to the chase scenes at the end of the film. However, all his best efforts are sabotaged by a jazz piano soundtrack that made me feel like I watching the film in a hotel lobby. Grusin's piano playing is sometimes so directly in opposition to what is happening on screen that it sucks all the tension out of the film. How the film cries out for a composer of the stature of Jerry Goldsmith.
People in the film industry will say that story is king. However, even the strongest scripts require the film makers to add some magic.
December 16, 2017
The first and the best of the Grisham thrillers, which pulls the rug out of any last remnant of legal idealism or yuppie ambition by exposing their compromised, violent underside. Excellent casting and a terrific score propel the movie, even as it stretches a half-hour too long.
October 31, 2017
I love all the Grisham Movies. This is maybe #2. After this movie, I did another Memphis retreat and stayed in the Peabody, eating @ the Diner down the street.
½ September 13, 2017
Back in the 90s it seemed that anything John Grisham wrote was bound for the big screen, and I was anxious to see them all. I?m a big fan of his blend of legal drama and thriller, and The Firm was the first film to introduce his style to myself and the rest of the movie-going public. Tom Cruise adds so much to this film because he plays the cocky and idealistic young lawyer spot-on, but can later transition into the man who is scared and in over his head. Watching it now I think perhaps the red flags were a bit too obvious and the fact that he ignored them all is a bit crazy, but I think they give his character enough baggage to make the poor decisions almost logical. There are a lot of great scenes in The Firm that get me on the edge of my seat because of how they establish a threat and keep putting Mitch in those precarious situations. There?s just one element that I always hate in this movie, and it colors my impression of the entire film from that point on. It is simply the moment when he falls for the honeytrap, which is so blatantly set up, but for some reason he just goes dumb for a minute. It frustrates me because it seems out of character based on what they established, and it makes him less sympathetic as well. If I can put that element aside then I find The Firm to be a high quality film with so many twists and turns I am glued to the screen the whole time. I love how they keep Mitch?s plan a mystery, so you are left guessing why he behaves in such a crazy fashion at the end. That climax is totally satisfying, and almost elevates the film above any small issues I have with it.
July 18, 2017
Tom Cruise as a hotshot lawyer, fresh out of school, who takes a tantalizing job offer in Memphis and discovers it's more than he bargained for. Soon he's on the run from both the law and his former bosses, trying to serve justice without sacrificing his young career along the way. It's serviceable, but has some issues. Most of the plot revolves around various cast members making poor decisions under pressure, which is odd considering they share a profession that demands cool heads. The big-spending highs never seem all that high, perhaps a symptom of the movie's age (the cushy home Cruise is provided by his new employers is furnished to look like your Grandma's crib), and the chief threats can be hard to take seriously because they always seem so bumbling and aloof. The firm's muscle, led by a rotund, elderly Wilford Brimley (with a quick appearance from Breaking Bad's Dean Norris), is a comedy of errors and the pursuing FBI squad, likewise, can't get out of its own way. It has twists and turns, standard for a Grisham adaptation, but they aren't always set up properly and don't make a ton of sense. Usually you'd expect some great oration from this kind of place setting, but the monologues are kept short and underwhelming in favor of a series of frantic chase scenes and tense near-misses. A touch on the bland side, it's not as bad as my complaints might let on but also not as good as some of the author's better-known works.
½ June 17, 2017
An law firm thriller without the court room drama.
May 7, 2017
Not comparable to the book at all.
½ April 30, 2017
A very good, taut legal thriller with lots of insight into people and culture and an engaging, intelligent premise. In some ways this production can't fail given the great quality resources devoted to the film: story from Grisham, direction from Pollock, star-power (and a very convincing performance) from Tom Cruise, and a truly great cast of secondary characters beautifully portrayed by equally great actors. It isn't a perfect film, but it is a very good one.
February 28, 2017
It's a fun law movie that doesn't quite hold up because the technology in the legal world has changed so much in the last 25 years. But otherwise, it's exactly like my life as a lawyer -- just with less crime, murder, running, and piano music.

Grade: A
February 19, 2017
Very entertaining and a must see
½ February 5, 2017
Great novel and movie
January 22, 2017
Good movie. Good cast. Plot was dragged out for a two and a half hour. Very dramatic.
½ August 17, 2016
Mitch McDeere is the luckiest man in the world. He's just graduated from Harvard Law with top marks, has a pretty wife to come home to every night, looks like a star athlete, and is wanted by nearly every firm residing on the East Coast. He seems cut out from the cloth of an idealized fairy tale revolving around the impossible to reach American Dream, coming from nothing - his mom lives in a trailer park, romancing loser after loser, and his brother is a convicted felon - yet working his way toward something. Only twenty-three, his face is elastic and characterized by noticeably naive aspiration, as if waiting to be weathered by years of soul destroying work and stress that won't relent until he finally decides to throw the towel in and call it a day.
As 1993's "The Firm," adapted from the best-selling 1991 John Grisham novel, opens, Mitch's life is yet to be marred by a reality that bites. He's in the midst of a long-winded interviewing process, jumping from firm to firm in hopes to find something that might suit him. Confident but not cocky, he's not so taken with the many offerings that promise a starting salary just north of $50,000, that promise him that he'll be part of a law-practicing family of hundreds. He's young and he's sanguine, aware that he'll most likely have to settle for a few years of disappointing pay and a lot of shed elbow grease. But he wants more.
So everything changes when Mitch steps into Bendini, Lambert, & Locke , a small, Memphis based outlet. He expects little but ends up startled - the firm, despite being comprised of a mere forty-one lawyers, boasts an ability to hand out $100,000 a year to its most successful employees, the steep mortgage necessary to purchase a top-dollar suburban home, and even a BMW to park in the driveway. How a business can afford to provide such a breathtaking salary and such unfathomably generous amenities is beyond Mitch - but because money is seductive and because he doesn't know any better, hardly a split second passes before he decides that this is the place he wants to work for the rest of his life.
He and his wife, Abby, jump from Boston to Memphis without batting an eye. With cash this good, they'll be living a jet-set lifestyle in no time, and nothing's more persuasive than going from broke college students to country club lounging power couple in a matter of months. In the weeks following, they settle in nicely. Mitch likes his colleagues and is thrilled by the long nights, and Abby has found a pleasant job at a local elementary school, befriending the wives of Mitch's peers like it's effortless in the process.
But there's something unsettling about Bendini, Lambert, & Locke that draws skepticism from them. Though initially fine with his all work and no play office work, the unending hours (sometimes climaxing at twenty a day) begin to grate on Mitch's resolve and the vivacity of his once hot-blooded marriage. Abby is provoked by her new friends' constant reminders that the firm likes healthy marriages, a handful of children, and has never seen a divorce nor an unhappy home, as though imperfections are deadly. Several of the firm's lawyers have died under mysterious circumstances in a relatively short timespan.
So suspicions are given weight when the FBI corners Mitch out of nowhere and brings his worst fears to life. All it front of him, it seems, is a sham, a front for corruption, Mafia linkages, and unspeakable evil. Bendini, Lambert, & Locke is more mob than firm. Mitch is given two options: he can either turn a blind eye and end up eventually spending the rest of his life in prison, or he can work as a quasi double agent who will never be able to live as Mitch McDeere again safely. Because he's played by Tom Cruise and because few'd be inclined to watch a movie or read a novel whereby the protagonist does nothing when he could be doing something, Mitch, of course, goes with the latter offer.
And so begins nearly three hours worth of abstruse deception, betrayals, and heated exchanges. In reading Grisham's novel did I find "The Firm" to be a wonderfully stylized thriller in which personality clashes and suspense charged passages were more exciting than conspiratorial loose-ends. Occupied by characters I grew to care about and characters I loved to hate, it was the kind of beach read a casual reader such as myself looks for in a book. I yearn for forgettably explosive thrills, thrills I can quickly eat up only to trade off for something else that reeks of quickly-written crowd-pleasing immediately after.
But because Grisham is no Agatha Christie and is less reliant on formula than like minded authors like James Patterson and Harlan Coben, I felt alive while reading "The Firm" - it's charged with a sort of urgency mostly found in blockbuster action movies that remind you that blockbuster action movies aren't so bad so long as they're done with a couple of sparks of originality. Hints of "All the President's Men" and "Three Days of the Condor" were to be found, too.
And yet the film adaptation, long-winded and punishingly complex, struggles to capture the book's palpable electricity, maybe because the material itself seems better suited to a miniseries or because two-and-a-half hours is too long for any movie that doesn't have the cast size or storytelling ambition of "Magnolia." It has the requisite tools necessary to be characterized as a masterpiece of a legal thriller - it's soundly directed by Sydney Pollack and is intelligently written by top screenwriters David Rabe, David Rayfiel, and Robert Towne - but it deepens its convolutions to the point of being incomprehensible. Though it mostly stays true to its source material (until it heads toward the conclusion and decides that Grisham apparently made some mistakes in wrapping things up), its fury and its tension are, more often than not, lost in translation.
But a lot of it is commendable, and "The Firm," regardless of its lacking of comprehensive sense, is still stirring. Cruise is perfectly cast as McDeere, possessing the face of a man who's both believable as a hero of a man and an everyman; Jeanne Tripplehorn, with her bee-stung lips and doe eyes, reassures us that Abby is far too whip-smart and strong-willed of a woman to be forgotten in the wife role. But I especially liked Holly Hunter's Tammy, a street savvy polymorph of a secretary who aids Mitch after her boss is shot down after Bendini, Lambert, & Locke steps in, and I liked Ed Harris's FBI man Tarrance, whose ruthlessness and GI Joe ballsiness sketches him as a power player you'd be wise not to mess with. Hackman is particularly heartbreaking as an idealist ruined by years of bribery and crooked office politics.
Most memorable, though, is the image of Cruise, wearing his flawlessly ironed monkey suit and anxiously clutching his briefcase, running through the streets of Memphis as bad guys chase after him with an intent to shoot to kill. A hero who risks his life to bring justice into this cruel world will never stop being an interesting type of protagonist, and Cruise recalls the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford of many moons ago. But "The Firm," with its burdensome running time and its many complexities, wants it all but can't have it all. It's a collection of fiery moments, performances, and conversations that never quite come together cohesively.
½ July 7, 2016
Customary slow moving of Pollack genre. It's firm in the beginning and in the latter part a runaway train.
½ July 1, 2016
Although seemingly bolstered down by sudden mood changes and it's formidable length, The Firm benefits from fantastic performances, a brilliant score and suspenseful mystery to it's story.

½ June 13, 2016
Fast paced action thriller never disappoints. Tom Cruise plays Harvard law graduate Mitch McDeer who is headhunted by a Memphis law firm who ultimately win him and his wife over. The honeymoon ends when Mitch discovers some disturbing secrets within the firm. The Firm is a classic law story that is easily the best Grisham adaptation to date.
May 19, 2016
Great movie - horrible score. The piano really aged this movie terribly, is very distracting and mood killing. Shame, because the movie itself was pretty good.
March 20, 2016
"The Firm" is drawn out and over complicated most of the time, but some parts are really intriguing.
I found myself either confused or bored for most of the movie. Regardless, I would recommend seeing since it's a classic, and some of the acting is very good.
February 12, 2016
This is one of those movies where the performances are so good you can overlook the plot implausibilities.
January 26, 2016
This movie isn't the greatest but Cruise is on point as usual and the supporting cast is solid especially Gene Hackman. I never found Jeanne Tripplehorn to be that attractive and I still don't. If it was maybe 20 minutes shorter that wouldn't be bad either.
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