The Firm MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   "The Firm"

When Sydney Pollack made the decision to direct "The Firm," he had probably started to brace himself for comparisons between his movie and John Grisham's best-selling book by the same name. He doesn't have much to worry about. After the first 90 minutes, the comparisons between reel and page become almost nonexistent. Pollack obviously decided to make his film independent from the book, but in doing so he eliminated the parts that made the novel a best-seller.

At the very least, "The Firm" has a great cast. Led by Tom Cruise, this suspense thriller is a whirlwind lesson of who's who in Hollywood. It includes Holly Hunter, Gary Busey, Gene Hackman, and even Wilford Brimley.

The story goes like this: Mitch McDeere (Cruise) is an intelligent, ambitious law graduate who accepts a position at a small law firm in Memphis. After two mysterious deaths in the firm and a couple of visits from the FBI, Mitch realizes there is something rotten in the state of Tennessee. Enlisting the aid of a concerned secretary (Hunter), Mitch devises an elaborate scheme that will rid him of the firm, the FBI, and even the Mafia.

By itself, "The Firm" is a respectable, well-cast suspense film. But after the cat-and-mouse excitement of the book, the movie is considerably weaker. Pollack and the gang substitute a decidedly wimpy finish for Grisham's take-the-money-and-run finale. But that's the Hollywood way. Tinseltown is notorious for taking great novels and crafting them into politically correct pieces of formulaic fluff.

The greatest asset, however, is the superb cast. Cruise fills out Mitch's ambitious ego well, but he can't overrule Gene Hackman. In one of the movie's better changes, Hackman makes Mitch's mentor Avery Tolar a more complex, human character. Gary Busey files an excellent performance as a grimy private investigator, as does Ed Harris, who plays a sneaky FBI agent. The usual grandfatherly Wilford Brimley gets a chance to sow his oats as the evil, manipulative head of security at the firm. Other good performances are turned in by Holly Hunter, Jeanne Tripplehorn as Mitch's disgruntled wife, and David Strathairn as Mitch's convict brother.

All in all, "The Firm" has enough hard evidence to make a good movie. Even though the book's fans may be disappointed, this is one legal thriller that gets a postiive verdict. n

Review by M. H., Westlake, OH

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i love this so much!

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