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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Firm (1993)



Reviews and Comments

The Firm is the first in a parade of adaptations of John Grisham popular legal thrillers. It's one of the most even and skillfully made of the bunch, but it suffers from at least three major flaws, one more crippling than the other two. The lesser two are the incredibility of Tom Cruise as a hot shot lawyer and a mishandling of Gene Hackman's character, which is given too much screen time and which, despite Hackman's talent, fails to be a compelling component of the story. The greater flaw is that the main character (Cruise) puts himself at the mercy of a conspiracy in a completely unconvincing manner. "It was a set-up," he is later told, but what a flimsy set-up it was. "The set-up" involved relying on Cruise's character to commit a moral sin simply by being presented with the opportunity. I'm sure there are many people who would give in, but why would a widespread conspiracy, which has everything to lose, indulge a plan that depends on the victim not simply walking away? So much of the story that follows is tied to this crucial moment, but the film is not about it -- the film merely uses it as a plot device, and, as such, the whole thing falls apart.

Other than these frustrating pieces, The Firm is otherwise a solid thriller, tense and confidently paced; I recommend it in spite of my reservations