Criminal Law (film)
|Directed by||Martin Campbell|
|Written by||Mark Kasdan|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Distributed by||Hemdale Film Corporation|
This article needs an improved plot summary. (November 2015)
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.
- Gary Oldman as Ben Chase
- Kevin Bacon as Martin Thiel
- Tess Harper as Detective Stillwell
- Karen Young as Ellen Faulkner
- Joe Don Baker as Detective Mesel
- Sean McCann as Jacob Fischer
- Ron Lea as Gary Hull
- Michael Sinelnikoff as Professor Clemtes
- Elizabeth Shepherd as Dr. Thiel
Roger Ebert wrote: "Criminal Law is a textbook example of a movie going wrong before our very eyes, because of the curious failure of the filmmakers to realize that you can toy with an audience only so long before the audience grows resentful... It's a shame such good performances were lost." Variety commended the work of Oldman and Bacon, but criticized the story's "ill-defined pretensions as an essay on the American legal system and a herky-jerky continuity that's fatiguing instead of tingling". Kevin Thomas felt that Criminal Law "proceeds from one weakness to another", but described Oldman as "electrifying".
Peter Travers was less impressed by Oldman's 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 had additional criticism for the film's "overwrought script" and lack of "logic" and "subtlety".
Slightly more favorable was Linda Rasmussen of AllMovie, who wrote that Oldman "gives an excellent performance", described Bacon as "intriguing and ambiguous", and praised the direction and action sequences. She concluded: "Criminal Law, if not taken very seriously and with more than a grain of salt, can be entertaining, but it fails miserably when compared to accurate, exciting legal thrillers such as Primal Fear. The film holds a 33% approval rating at review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 9 reviews, with an average score of 4.6/10.
- Criminal Law review. Rolling Stone.
- Criminal Law review. AllMovie.
- Criminal Law at Rotten Tomatoes.
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