Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gary Fleder|
|Produced by||Gary Fleder
|Screenplay by||Brian Koppelman
|Based on||The Runaway Jury
by John Grisham
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Editing by||William Steinkamp
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release dates||October 17, 2003|
|Running time||127 minutes|
Runaway Jury is a 2003 American drama/thriller film directed by Gary Fleder and starring John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and Rachel Weisz. It is an adaptation of John Grisham's novel The Runaway Jury.
In New Orleans, a failed day trader at a stock brokerage firm shows up at his former workplace and opens fire on his former colleagues, then turns the gun on himself. Among the dead is Jacob Wood (Dylan McDermott). Two years later, with pro bono attorney Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman), Jacob's widow Celeste (Joanna Going) takes Vicksburg Firearms to court on the grounds that the company's gross negligence led to her husband's death.
During jury selection, jury consultant Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman) and his team communicate background information on each of the jurors to lead defense attorney Durwood Cable (Bruce Davison) in the courtroom through electronic surveillance.
In the jury pool, Nick Easter (John Cusack), an electronics store clerk, tries to get himself excused from jury duty. Judge Frederick Harkin (Bruce McGill) decides to give Nick a lesson in civic duty and Fitch, despite having originally eliminated him from the list of potential jurors, tells Cable that the judge has sandbagged them, and that he must select Nick as a juror. Nick's congenial manner wins him acceptance from his fellow jurors, with the exception of Frank Herrera (Cliff Curtis), a Marine veteran who takes an instant dislike to him.
However, further to Frank's suspicions of Nick, it is revealed that he and his girlfriend Marlee (Rachel Weisz) do have an ulterior motive. The two seem to be grifters, and offer both Fitch and Rohr the verdict - to the first bidder. Fitch asks for proof that they can deliver. On the other hand, Rohr dismisses the offer, assuming it to be a defense tactic by Fitch to obtain a mistrial. Fitch orders Nick's apartment raided, unfortunately with unsubstantial result. Marlee retaliates by getting one of Fitch's jurors bounced. Fitch then goes after three jurors with blackmail, leading one of them, Rikki Coleman (Rhoda Griffis), to attempt suicide. Nick shows Judge Harkin surveillance footage of his apartment being raided and the judge orders the jury sequestered.
Rohr loses key witness Kincaid (Stuart Greer) due to harassment, and after confronting Fitch, decides that he cannot win the case. He asks his firm's partners for $10 million. Fitch sends an operative, Janovich (Nestor Serrano), to kidnap Marlee, but she fights him off and raises Fitch's price to $15 million. On principle, Rohr changes his mind and refuses to pay. Despite knowing this, Fitch agrees to pay Marlee to be certain of the verdict. Nick receives confirmation of receipt of payment and he steers the jury deliberation in favour of the plaintiff, much to the chagrin of Herrera, who launches into a rant, confessing his contemptuous disregard of the law and case facts. Frank's tirade undermines any support he may have had for immediate dismissal of the lawsuit. Admitting that he, too, had started with pre-trial notions, Nick gets the jury to agree that they should deliberate the actual merit of the case as presented in court. The gun manufacturer is found liable, with the jury awarding $110 million in general damages to Celeste Wood.
Meanwhile, Doyle (Nick Searcy), a Fitch subordinate, tracks down Nick's history in the rural town of Gardner, Indiana, where he discovers that Nick is really Jeff Kerr, a talented former law student drop-out, and that Marlee's real name is Gabby Brandt. Gabby's sister died in a school shooting, while standing beside Gabby's boyfriend, Jeff/Nick. The town of Gardner sued the gun manufacturer and Fitch helped to win the case for the defense, bankrupting the town of Gardner. Doyle concludes that Nick and Marlee's intent is a set-up, and he frantically calls Fitch, who, realizing it is a set-up, came to watch the verdict hoping to claim victory, but it is too late.
After the trial, Nick and Marlee confront Fitch with a receipt for the $15 million bribe and demand that he retire. They inform him that the $15 million will benefit the shooting victims in the town of Gardner.
The film had been in pre-production since 1997. Directors slated to helm the picture included Joel Schumacher and Mike Newell, with the lead being offered to Edward Norton and Will Smith. The novel's focus on big tobacco was retained until the 1999 film The Insider was released, necessitating a plot change from tobacco to gun companies.
The film grossed $49,440,996 in the United States and $80,154,140 worldwide.
Runaway Jury received generally positive reviews from critics, garnering a 73 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the site calling the film "An implausible but entertaining legal thriller."  Roger Ebert's critique of this film stated that the plot to sell the jury to the highest-bidding party was the most ingenious device in the story because it avoided pitting the "evil" and the "good" protagonists directly against each other in a stereotypical manner, but it plunged both of them into a moral abyss. John Grisham himself said it was a "smart, suspenseful" movie, and was disappointed it made so little money.
- Runaway Jury Box Office Mojo
- "Runaway Jury (2003) Film Review; Courtroom Confrontation With Lots of Star Power" The New York Times
- The Runaway Jury
- Runaway Jury - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information - The Numbers
- "Runaway Jury" review Roger Ebert
- "Grisham v. Grisham" Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly, February 6, 2004
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Runaway Jury|
- Runaway Jury at the Internet Movie Database
- Runaway Jury at Rotten Tomatoes
- Runaway Jury at allmovie
- Runaway Jury at the TCM Movie Database
- Runaway Jury at Box Office Mojo
- Runaway Jury at The Numbers