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
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
Box office $9,974,446

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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