I had higher expectations for this movie, and unfortunately, it fell a little flat. Don’t stop reading yet, it did have its merits!
The story focuses on lawyers (I guess they’re called “barristers” in Britain..?) Martin Rose (Eric Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) as they prepare to defend a Turkish man against charges of conspiracy, terrorism, etc. after a market was blown up.
The story isn’t a bad story, but it just wasn’t as intense and fast-paced as the previews (and poster) made it out to be, which was probably the biggest disappointment for me. I was thinking it was going to be a fast-paced political thriller, and it’s actually a somewhat slow-moving lawyer movie. The previews make it look like some big brother type of story, and it has a bit of that in there, but not to the extent that the previews would have you believe. Even The Firm was fast-paced for a lawyer movie.
I can’t say anything against the acting, though. Everyone was superb. Why Eric Bana isn’t the biggest movie star in the world is beyond me. The guy’s a champ. Even in bad movies, he’s the best thing about them.
Julia Stiles has a small role as well (credited at the beginning as “With Julia Stiles” instead of being listed with the rest of the cast – a big step up for someone her age if you ask me) but it was far too small in my opinion. She was supposed to be an impediment to Rose, but in the end, her role was almost unnecessary. I blame the director for that one – you don’t bring on someone as well-known as Julia Stiles and put her in two scenes. You just DON’T. Shame on him.
Ciaran Hinds was excellent as well. His role was probably the best in the film as far as its effect on the plot goes. I’m usually not his biggest fan, but this was one role he did exceptionally well.
Overall, I think the biggest issue was the writing. It was never especially bad, it just was never especially good, either. There were so many more subplots and twists that could have been played up and were simply glazed over or brought up and forgotten about. In some places, the resolutions and conclusions made by the characters seemed a little oversimplified. I know Eric Bana’s a genius, but he had the game pegged midway through the movie, completely suspending what little suspense was in play! (Also, Julia Stiles should have had at least 3 more scenes. #fail)
While it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve seen this summer, it was far from the best. But if you are a big fan of either Eric Bana or Julia Stiles, I think it’s still worth a look. It’s got the same style as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but without quite as much intrigue as it ought to have. Also, random sidenote: apparently British lawyers have to wear wigs in court. Hilariously unexpected.
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