Criminal Law (film)

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Criminal Law
Criminal Law.jpg
Directed by Martin Campbell
Produced by Hilary Heath
Robert MacLean
Written by Mark Kasdan
Starring Gary Oldman
Kevin Bacon
Tess Harper
Karen Young
Joe Don Baker
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Distributed by Hemdale Film Corporation
Release dates
  • April 28, 1989 (1989-04-28)
Running time
117 min.
Country United States
Language English

Criminal Law is a 1989 thriller film directed by Martin Campbell and starring Gary Oldman and Kevin Bacon. It received overwhelmingly negative reviews.


Attorney Ben Chase successfully defends Martin Thiel, a wealthy, young playboy, getting him acquitted of a series of brutal murders — only to find out later that Thiel is indeed a serial killer. Since Thiel cannot be tried again for his crimes, Chase tries to get him to incriminate himself before he can kill again.



Criminal Law received a decidedly unfavorable reaction from critics, with a 33% "rotten" rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert called the film "a textbook example of a movie going wrong before our very eyes."[1]

Oldman's performance is generally regarded as one of the worst of his career.[2] The film marks his first use of an American accent, which was derided by many critics for rendering his dialogue "forced and stilted".[2] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave a scathing appraisal of the performance, writing: "Oldman is a powerhouse...But what's a British actor doing playing a Harvard attorney in a Boston-based movie shot in Montreal? Flailing about like a drowning man, that's what. Oldman's [accent is] laughably in-and-out". He added that "Bacon delivers the film's one modulated performance", while "Oldman rants hysterically".[3]


  1. ^ Criminal Law at Rotten Tomatoes.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Chris (August 1999). "Gary Oldman: A sheep in wolf's clothing". Uncut (IPC Media) (27). 
  3. ^ Criminal Law review. Rolling Stone.

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