A Time to Kill - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Time to Kill Reviews

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December 4, 2016
There are, I think, some aspects of this movie, which are less than absolutely believable. Mind you, overlooking that - because, let's face it, I am nitpicking - this version of John Graham's debut novel is pretty damn good. It is so good because of the excellent performances of everybody - and I mean everybody - involved.
A Time To Kill is a compelling, well told, superbly acted film that not only is well worth a look, but also bears repeat viewing. I'd even go so far as to say that, despite its flaws, I love this movie a little bit.
November 15, 2016
John Grisham is brilliant. This was the first book he wrote, and of the ones I've read, it was his best. The movie is an excellent portrayal of the story, and all the actors/actresses did a great job.
November 1, 2016
As good as the book.
September 24, 2016
Outstanding performances in this distressing story, but it's so well handled...McConaughey is just so good at playing a lawyers. (See Amistad, the Lincoln Lawyer).
September 11, 2016
Grisham's first novel combines thrills, racism, courtroom drama, all into one suspenseful package. The acting is good, the movie is solid, and it all amounts to a terrific film, highly recommended.
August 28, 2016
Arguably one of the best films of the 1990's. A great script and acting make this a pleasure to watch.
August 19, 2016
Me And My Brother Jesse Krajci Like Samuel L. Jackson.
July 18, 2016
A Time to Kill is simply a poorly-written adaptation of a good novel. But that's what I expect from Akiva Goldsman.
½ June 8, 2016
(3.5 stars)
'A Time to Kill' is in need of significant fine tuning but the racially motivated crime narrative on offer is very strong. Samuel L.Jackson hires the services of Matthew McConaughy's lawyer after he goes on trial for killing his daughter's white rapists. The discussions of vigilante justice, though not in-depth, are thought-provoking and the events depicting the wider public aftermath ignited by the litigation do well to shock viewers. Despite appearing to have all the necessary elements for a racial discrimination in Southern America premise, they should have dedicated more time on making these elements better. The Klu Klux Klan are too often treated as pantomime villains, meaning its hard to take them seriously even though we really should given their actions. Kevin Spacey slightly overcooks it when playing the prosecuting lawyer, trying too hard to come across as a dickhead. Furthermore, vocabulary is kept rather simple, meaning we never explore below the surface of most characters. It is only at the end where, in typical Samuel L.Jackson fashion, we get an enlightening speech which highlights an insightful observation of the racism issue. As a result, this story echoing 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is not told in the most poetic manner but manages to hold onto enough of the emotional power inherent to its factual setting.
½ April 28, 2016
The premise: a black man is on trial for murder, and he'll either get off Scot-free or be executed. Nothing in-between. And in a nutshell, therein lies the fault of the movie: all gray areas are instead broadly painted in either black-or-white, and whenever the script screamed for subtlety, we're gently gifted with the overt.

There were a series of overwhelmingly powerful scenes and monologues, and the story as a whole was engaging - as most any dramatic courtroom saga is - but I felt dissatisfied in the end. While I recognize Grisham is the author and there was a need to stick to the original novel, I felt that a more powerful ending would've been for the final verdict to more accurately reflect our country's current state of race relations.

And, you know, for the case to have been closed as soon as the murderer admitted to what he was on trial for.
April 24, 2016
There is a dilemma whether root for Hailey or not. But the story that packs piles of things to suggest you to root for Hailey feels forced. Samuel Jackson was on auto pilot, Bullock was charming and McConaughey seems to be the Hollywood's lawyer in demand.

Reviewed 2010
½ April 5, 2016
I found myself not liking this film due to its philosophy of vegence and I also did not like how the film tries to over sympathize for a killer. I saw this in one of my classes and I could go on and on about how flawed this movie really is.
March 31, 2016
I think this was one of John Grisham's most riveting drama. Matthew McConaghey was brilliant in the courtroom. I loved this movie!
February 5, 2016
Critics are idiots. This is such a great movie, Joel before he lost his way with the Batman movies.
½ February 4, 2016
Wow that ending...wow
½ February 2, 2016
Del director Joel Schumacher's nos llega esta adaptación del best-seller de John Grisham, en el cual un abogado deberá defender a un afroamericano acusado de asesinar a sangre fría a los violadores de su pequeña hija, en un juzgado del sur de los Estados Unidos,
February 1, 2016
all star cast in a court room thriller.
½ January 25, 2016
When it comes to being an effective, empathetic thriller, "A Time to Kill" is faultless, capable of handling its storyline with such sure-handed conviction that we go along with its ardent tensity without batting an eye. Only after it concludes do we come to realize just how problematic it is, being a hotbed of Southern brewed racism and revenge a little too preachy and a little too glossy for my taste. It condones the outrageousness of racism, as it should, but why is it that so much attention is put onto its white characters while its black characters are oftentimes cast aside as figures of the film's background, never really to be three-dimensionalized?
A nitpicking statement that is, but "A Time to Kill" is provocative enough to call for discussion and critique. Its premise is horrific. It concerns the brutal rape of ten-year-old Tonya Hailey (Rae'ven Larrymore Kelly), a black girl who falls predator to a couple of disgusting white supremacists while walking home from the grocery store in the backwoods. Tonya's Southern town is understandably shook up, vying for a lock-up of the evil men who robbed the girl of her childhood.
But an expected incarceration is complicated when Tonya's father, Carl (Samuel L. Jackson), takes the law into his own hands and guns down the men in the very same courtroom they're about to be tried. An officer of the law (Chris Cooper) loses his leg in the scuffle. From there, things quickly go awry - the town's bigots get so passionate that the Ku Klux Klan rises from the ashes, and the region becomes a breeding ground of reinstated prejudice.
Putting his life on the line in his thirst for justice, young attorney Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) takes Carl's case, a brave thing to do considering the murderous nature of the town's increasingly overt racists. His wife (Ashley Judd) is concerned, the safety of their family in jeopardy, and his secretary (Brenda Fricker) would rather he just move onto another case. But, knowing full well that few in town would be willing to undertake Carl's case, Brigance throws caution to the wind in an attempt to make right.
On his side is Ellen Roark (Sandra Bullock), an enthusiastic lawyer fresh out of law school, his close friend Harry Rex Vonner (Oliver Platt), and his mentor (Donald Sutherland). His team is well-adapted to the situation, but the prosecuting attorney (Kevin Spacey) is determined, and very much able, to gain the upper hand, caring less about morality and more about winning. In a race against time, Brigance must do the impossible and persuade a courtroom of several white supremacists of Carl's justification by claiming insanity.
"A Time to Kill," of course, is the kind of movie that would never dream of letting the KKK win - what film would allow for such an ending, especially one that plays for a drawn out two-and-a-half hours? The film itself is an adaptation of John Grisham's first (and best-selling) novel, and it is a plausible morality tale, many of its situations ringing true. It is successful at antagonizing us, and calls for us to question our own morals in the same way many of its own characters face.
But my faint praise is not well-matched in every area. A lot of my concern especially arrives at the end of the film, particularly the scene that depicts Brigance's closing remarks to the jury. In it, McConaughey delivers a moving but graphic speech that brutally walks the jury through the traumas Tonya went through, forcing them into the shoes of Carl in his state of vengeance. It's a rousing speech, well-delivered by McConaughey and certainly a blunt reminder that Tonya's rapists had what was coming to them. But the screenplay makes a tragic mistake in that in calls for Brigance to conclude his remarks with a head-shaker of a statement: "Now," he says through tears. "Imagine she's white."
Would the jury not have been disturbed by a terrifying recounting of what Tonya survived? Are we, as viewers, supposed to sit back, not care about the story, until Brigance asks us to ponder a different race? It's a petrifying misstep that causes us to question the superficiality of the film as a whole. If I were generous, I might assume that the film isn't trying to be artificial, rather remind us that, if Carl were an upper-class white man, such a court case would not be occurring at all. But "A Time to Kill," too sanctimonious to cause most viewers to draw upon subtleties, feels phony overall.
But it still contains a lot of good, and that's why I find it hard to completely write it off. McConaughey and Jackson give impassioned, sensitive performances, and Bullock and Spacey are feisty and compellingly ambitious. For most of its length, it is very absorbing. But it is a shallow examination of race relations, one that begins with a rapidly beating heart than grows steadily sluggish as it tries to further its many claims. A shame - we can only wonder how much better of a film it would be if it were more subtle, if it were less soapbox reliant and more impeccably intelligent.
½ December 24, 2015
Couldn't get into this film. It's sad that Spacey and Jackson were saddled with this mess. I think Schumacher did a terrible job directing this film, as he failed to hold my interest.

Maybe others might like this, but this movie just wasn't for me.
December 17, 2015
Well paced overall, well directed by Schumacher, and solidly wrought by a dynamite McConaughey who holds the tension of the film perfectly together, so that the strong story elements and emotional upheavals have room to sizzle on screen.
A tad long, but well worth every moment bc of the powerful acting.

4 out of 5
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