Criminal Law Review

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Gary Oldman is a hotshot defense lawyer who uses spellbinding courtroom trickery to get a rich kid (Bacon), accused of a horrible rape-mutilation-murder, set free. No sooner has he got over his celebratory hangover than he is asked to meet his client whereupon he discovers not another dead and mangled corpse. Getting the idea that the man in the dock ought to be the man on death row, and racked with guilt because he turned him loose, Oldman agrees to be Bacon's lawyer again, but this time he's p


Having proved his credentials with Edge Of Darkness for the BBC, as well as episodes of 'The Professionals' and 'Minder', Martin Campbell (later to offer up The Mask of Zorro and Goldeneye) here launched into an American courtroom-psychopath drama in the tradition of Jagged Edge, Suspect and Presumed Innocent, without ever attaining the tension of such company.

The script has a few passages weighing justice against vengeance, and Oldman and Bacon play their scenes together with a nervously scary intensity that is reminiscent of Campbell's best work. The story, how ever, by Larry Kasdan's brother Mark, is nowhere like as allusive or absorbing as it should be, shooting off into all manner of unlikely melodramatic devices and too often ditching the quietly scary; character stuff for stalk-and-slash psyche scenes.

If you can swallow the absurd plot, then this is just about worth seeing, with Oldman and Bacon doing an adequate job with the fairly shoddy tools a their disposal.