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A Time to Kill - Movie Review

Essay by   •  April 6, 2017  •  Book/Movie Report  •  2,076 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,214 Views

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The movie I chose to watch was “A Time to Kill,” a movie directed by Joel Schumacher. This movie was released in 1996 and was actually based off of the novel written by John Grisham. The stars of this film were Samuel Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, and Kevin Spacey. This movie won and was also nominated for several awards to include: The Golden Globes, ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Chicago Film and Critics Association Award, Grammy Award, Image Award, Jupiter Award, and the MTV Movie Award. This movie is rated 7 out of 10 stars, according to movie reviews online.

        The movie “A Time to Kill” began in medias res, which is always an immediate attention grabber for the audience. The setting of this movie was in Canton, Mississippi in the late 1980s. This was a time in the United States when blatant racism was still an obstacle for all people of color, especially in the south. The movie begins with two white southern racist joyriding in a yellow pick-up truck while drinking along with causing havoc and interrupting the peace along their drunken journey. Every black person in their path along the way were disrespected, spit on, and called names, on their way to the local whites only watering hole. What happens next sets up the root of the story for the movie. After terrorizing the local black, the two white men find themselves racing down a dirt road on their way to the bar. To their surprise they notice a 10-year-old little black girl walking all alone along this dirt path holding a bag of groceries. One of the white men throw a full, unopened can of beer at her, resulting in her dropping the bag of groceries. As the bag of groceries hits the ground, spilling its contents among the side of the dirt road, the little girl is scared and startled by the two white men. The two men then exit the truck in their drunken rage and drag the little girl into the woods along the dirt road. The two white men throw the little girl to the ground, strip off her clothes, and begin to take turns raping her. When the two men were done taking turns with her, they urinate on her beaten, bloody body. Then, the two men throw her in the bed of their yellow pick-up truck and drive to a nearby river to dump the little girl’s lifeless body after failing to hang her from a tree. The little girl was soon discovered at the river bed alive by her three brothers that went out to look for her after noticing that she still wasn’t home from a walk to the local grocery store as she’s done several time before. Upon the discovery of the little girl, law enforcement was contacted and the two white men were arrested at their final destination, the local watering hole in the wall bar. The two men were bragging about their time with the little girl when the sheriff walked in with his fellow policemen to serve them some well-deserved justice.

        The main character of the movie, Carl Lee, whose portrayed by actor Samuel Jackson, rushes home from work after receiving a disturbing phone call while at work from his wife to hurry home. Carl Lee arrives at his home moments later only to discover his bloodied baby girl lying on the couch in the family room dazed, beaten, confused, and scared. They call the ambulance and Carl Lee carries her to the paramedics who were awaiting her outside their home. As Carl Lee carries his daughter she apologizes for dropping the groceries in the road and softly exclaims to her father that she called out for him repeatedly but he never came to her rescue. This conversation between Carl Lee and his daughter was heart-wrenching, which seemed to have ignited a raging fire in Carl Lee’s soul. After his little girl was place into the intensive care unit at the local hospital in town, Carl Lee decided to pay Attorney Jake Brigance, whose portrayed by actor Matthew McConaughey, a visit. Attorney Jake Brigance was a local defense attorney who helped his brother beat a case against him a couple of years before. Carl Lee knew that Brigance was to represent the two men who had just raped and beat his daughter. Carl Lee asked Brigance if he thought that the two men, who were obviously guilty, would go free after the trial. Carl Lee also brought up to Brigance the trial of four white men who raped a black girl in Mississippi previously; they were acquitted only because they were white and Carl Lee was afraid that the same would happen to his daughter. Carl Lee then expresses how he feels about what happened to his daughter to Brigance and how he felt about the accused. Carl Lee soon leaves Brigance silently in raged, only to sneak into the courthouse where the preliminary hearing was to be held the following morning; Carl Lee found a janitor’s closet where he sat and patiently waited. Brigance later retires to his home where his wife and daughter and tells his wife about his conversation with Carl Lee. Brigance expresses to his wife his empathy that he has for Carl Lee and his situation. He recounts the conversation between him and Carl Lee to his wife and she expresses to Brigance how he should alert the sheriff, which he does not.

        The next day, the two accused white men were escorted into the courthouse by the arresting sheriff and his deputies. As they were being walked up the stairs to the hearing, Carl Lee suddenly immerges from the janitor’s closet wielding an M-16 military-styled rifle, shoots the two accused white men, and injures the sheriff’s deputy that was escorting the men. After watching the two white men fall to their demise, Carl Lee exits the court house the same way he snuck his way into the courthouse and ran home. Moments later, Carl Lee is arrested at his home by the sheriff and his deputies; Carl Lee is taken to jail where he awaits to be tried. Brigance visits him in his holding cell and they discuss court fees and his chances of winning his case with Brigance taking his case. The case is very soon picked up by the national media headlining as a rape and revenge killing deep in the racist south. The brother of one of the white men, Freddie Lee Cobb, who was supposed to be tried for the rape and battery of Carl Lee’s daughter, who was also killed by Carl Lee, decided to contact the dragon leader of the Ku Klux Klan to help him organize his own chapter of the KKK in Canton, Mississippi. After being initiated and gathering his friends to join and help, Cobb starts his own chapter of the KKK and all hell begins to break loose!

        With the media circus in town and the case reaching the entire nation via television and newspapers, the district attorney Rufus Buckley, who was portrayed by actor Kevin Spacey, decides to pursue the death penalty for Carl Lee upon his conviction. Buckley gets to work by sending his legal aids to discredit anything and everything about the witnesses and professional opinions of the defense. Cobb and the Klan begin to do their part in assisting the DA by threatening people on the defense’s side, burning crosses in people’s yards, beating people up, all in an attempt to intimidate and scare anyone who sides with the defense and Brigance. Brigance is soon approached by Ellen Roark, who was portrayed by actress Sandra Bullock, who is a fierce, researching law student that offers to help Brigance out by assisting him in the trial on Carl Lee’s behalf free of charge. Brigance is reluctant at first, but soon takes her advice and help with the trial. Cobb and the Klan attempt to bomb Brigance’s house but fail to do so due to Brigance being tipped off by a Klansmen informant by the surname Mickey Mouse. After this attempt, Brigance’s family is moved out of their family home by law enforcement for their own personal safety until the trial is over.



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