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A young lawyer joins a prestigious law firm only to discover that it has a sinister dark side.
It's the Fall of 1992 and I'm a young Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. John Grisham was the hottest novelist of the day and his legal thriller "The Firm" was everywhere. I'm not kidding...it was everywhere. I remember taking a domestic flight back then and counting the number of people that I saw reading the paperback version of "The Firm". It was not a small number. I was one of them and I absolutely loved the book. Not only was it a thrilling read, it helped to re-ignite my desire to go to law school, which I eventually did.
Not long after the novel became a massive success, word started spreading about the impending movie that was to come to a theater near me. Normally, I don't like seeing movies that I know anything about, much less where I've already read the book. But, for some reason, I was ecstatic about "The Firm" coming out and I wasted no time rushing to the theater in the Summer of 1993. It's always a challenge to release a movie based on a best-selling novel because there can be such high expectations that it can be difficult to deliver. However, in the case of "The Firm", I was not disappointed.
While there's no way you can pack the details of an entire novel into a 2+ hour movie, I felt that director Sydney Pollack did a good job of staying true to the book. I just rewatched the movie (25 years later) and since it's been a while since I read the book or last watched the movie, there was a lot that I had "forgotten" so it was a bit of a re-discovery for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, this was a movie made in the early 1990s and is not what I consider to be a "timeless" classic. It is very dated and as I watched, I was partially transported back to the fashions, styles and music of the time. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing. What's even worse (and drives my wife crazy) is that I still have some of those clothes buried in the closet or deep storage. Like those styles are ever going to come back! I think I should also mention the erratic piano score that underlined most of the film. This was more how the scores were back in that day. In today's films, it seems that the musical score has become more subtle. But, in those days, it was in your face and if there was a scene that needed a bit more tension, you just banged the piano keys a little harder or bumped up the gain. I'm sure it was not very noticeable back then, but today, I found it to be rather annoying. Doesn't make it less of a good movie...just interesting to observe how movies have evolved along those musical lines.
I've spent some time in Boston and Memphis, but not enough to be that familiar with them. Still, I found both locations to be inviting and intriguing. It made me want to return to both and get to know them better. A young Tom Cruise (post "Top Gun", "Rain Man" and even "A Few Good Men", but pre "Mission Impossible" and "Jerry Maguire") did a nice job of portraying the young fledgling attorney Mitchell McDeere. This movie came out right after "A Few Good Men" and there are moments in this film when Tom waxes legal in his dialog and I thought I was watching LT Daniel Kaffee for a few minutes. I'm sure that must have been interesting for him to play back-to-back attorneys, both of which did well at the box office. Other enjoyable performances are worth mentioning: a young Jeanne Tripplehorn (before "Waterworld" and WAY before HBO's "Big Love) as Mitchell's wife Abby, Gene Hackman (at one time, the hardest working man in Hollywood) as Mitchell's morally confused mentor, Wilford Brimley as the firm's head of security Devasher, Ed Harris as the pesky FBI Agent, a very sexy Holly Hunter as one of Mitchell's cohorts, and David Strathairn as Mitchell's partially ostracized brother Ray. There were also some enjoyable cameos by Hal Holbrook, Gary Busey and Paul Sorvino.
It's hard for me to recommend this movie to a younger audience that didn't grow up in that era. It's an enjoyable movie, but I'm afraid a young audience would be too distracted by the dated nature of the film. For the rest of us that did make it through the 90s, you will enjoy this legal thriller. If you've seen "The Firm" and it's been a while, give it another shot. You'll probably feel like you're kind of watching it for the first time, just like me.
I give this movie 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.