A Time to Kill (1996)



Critic Consensus: Overlong and superficial, A Time to Kill nonetheless succeeds on the strength of its skillful craftsmanship and top-notch performances.

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Carl Lee Hailey takes the law into his own hands after the legal system fails to adequately punish the men who brutally raped and beat his daughter. When Hailey chooses novice lawyer Jake Brigance to handle his defense, it begins to look like a certainty that Carl will hang.
R (adult situations/language, violence)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Home Video

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Matthew McConaughey
as Jake Brigance
Sandra Bullock
as Ellen Roark
Kevin Spacey
as Rufus Buckley
Brenda Fricker
as Ethel Twitty
Oliver Platt
as Harry Rex Vonner
Charles S. Dutton
as Sheriff Ozzie Walls
Ashley Judd
as Carla Brigance
Donald Sutherland
as Lucien Wilbanks
Kiefer Sutherland
as Freddie Cobb
Patrick McGoohan
as Judge Omar Noose
Tonea Stewart
as Gwen Hailey
Darrin Mitchell
as Skip Hailey
LaConte McGrew
as Slim Hailey
Devin Lloyd
as Willie Hailey
John Diehl
as Tim Nunley
Chris Cooper
as Deputy Looney
Nicky Katt
as Billy Ray Cobb
Doug Hutchison
as Pete Willard
Kurtwood Smith
as Stup Sisson
Tim Parati
as Winston
Mark W. Johnson
as Deputy Hastings
Beth Grant
as Cora Cobb
Joe Seneca
as Reverend Isaiah Street
Anthony Heald
as Dr. Rodeheaver
Thomas Merdis
as Reverend Ollie Agee
Alexandra Kyle
as Hannah Brigance
Terry Loughlin
as Jury Foreman
Andy Stahl
as Reluctant Male Juror
Joe Bullen
as Joe Frank Perryman
Lorraine Middleton
as Blonde Woman Juror
Graham Timbes
as Male Juror
Jonathan Hadary
as Norman Reinfield
Benjamin Mouton
as Klan Bomber
Byron Jennings
as Brent Musgrove
Patrick Sutton
as Militant Teenager
Greg Lauren
as Taylor
Danny Nelson
as Bud Twitty
Mike Pniewski
as Deputy Tatum
Elizabeth Omilami
as Woman Angry at Klan
Lukas Cain
as Looney's Son
Stacy Rae Toyon
as Looney's Wife
Wayne Dehart
as Claude
Helen E. Floyd
as Waitress at Claude's
David Brian Williams
as Customer at Claude's
Octavia Spencer
as Roark's Nurse
James M. Crumley Jr.
as Guardsman Mackenvale
Jim Ritchie
as Tom Hardy
Perry Ritchie
as Sarah Hardy
Mike McLaren
as Administrator at Whitfield
Timothy F. Monich
as Reverend Fink
Leonard Thomas
as Man in Lumberyard
Brance H. Beamon
as Noose's Butler
Mildred J. Gilbreath
as Noose's Housekeeper
Will Crapps
as Minister
Maggie Wade Dixon
as TV Anchor
Russell Hambline
as Old Man Bates
Robert Chapman
as Young Fisherman
Tommy McCullough
as Old Fisherman
Bettina Rose
as Buckley's Secretary
Terrance Freeman
as Court Deputy
Alice Julius-Scott
as NAACP Woman
William Truly Jr.
as NAACP Man No. 1
Walter L. Hutchins
as NAACP Man No. 2
Jerry Hunt
as Electrical Company Worker
Howard Ballou
as Reporter No. 1 with Hastings
Todd Demers
as Reporter No. 1 with Jake
Stephanie Strickland
as Reporter No. 1 with Buckley
Kim Hendrix
as Reporter No. 2 with Buckley
Rob Jay
as Reporter No. 3 with Buckley
Sherri Hilton
as Reporter No. 2 with Jake
Steve Coulter
as Klansman
Jackie Stewart
as Fire Chief
Rosebud Dixon-Green
as Woman at Rally
M. Emmet Walsh
as Dr. Willard Tyrell Bass
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Critic Reviews for A Time to Kill

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (14)

A likable -- maybe even lovable -- movie.

Full Review… | June 13, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Although it has its share of implausibilities, A Time To Kill is generally the most satisfying of the John Grisham screen adaptations to date.

Full Review… | October 7, 2008
Top Critic

Justice may be blind, but rarely have courtroom dramas presumed quite so heavily on cultural myopia as this heinous version of John Grisham's first novel.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

If the film doesn't add up to a cogent legal argument, neither does it have trouble delivering 2 hours and 20 minutes' worth of sturdy, highly charged drama.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Untrained as an actor, with only three minor roles to his credit, McConaughey holds the screen against Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey, and completely justifies the buzz surrounding his role...

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

McConaughey, 26, is dynamite in a performance of smarts, sexiness, scrappy humor and unmistakable star sizzle.

June 5, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for A Time to Kill


The book must be also powerfull ,nothing left but to find out ...

Eliza Norton
Eliza Norton

Super Reviewer

This incredibly enthralling court drama tries to juggle a lot of themes at the same time and yet succeeds. Race issues in the southern US meet the question of taking law into your own hands to punish those who deserve it. The film can rely on a gripping script and a stellar cast. The dialogs, while sometimes not without stereotypes, are spot on most of the time and deliver strong scenes that demand everything from the actors. McConaughey, Jackson and Spacey all deliver. It's probably physically impossible not to be moved one way or another by the events of this film, even if you catch yourself realizing how it is playing you. The result is so well filmed and delivered that it is nothing less than one of the strongest and most exciting court dramas ever put on film.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Charles S. Dutton, Oliver Platt, Brenda Fricker, Donald Sutherland, Ashley Judd, Tonea Stewart, John Diehl, Chris Cooper, Nicky Katt, Kurtwood Smith, Beth Grant, Joe Seneca, Anthony Heald, Alexandra Kyle, Kiefer Sutherland Director: Joel Schumacher Summary: When two white men brutally rape a young black girl in a small Mississippi town, the child's vengeful father (Samuel L. Jackson) fears their acquittal and takes the law into his own hands. But as his trial date approaches, all hell breaks loose. Aided by lawyer Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) and his spunky legal assistant (Sandra Bullock), the father fights to stay out of prison and salve his daughter's terrible memories. My Thoughts: "By far one of the best movies I have ever seen. All the performances where outstanding. Some of my favorite actors are in this movie so that was a plus. But more then anything, it was the story line that brought me to watch this movie that I have seen multiple times. The best John Grisham story put to film. The story is tragic, sickening, and intense. But inspiring as well."


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