A criminal defense attorney, played by Matthew Modine, has lost all hope after his family dies in an accident. On the brink of suicide, he is called upon for one more case, defending a young man who may face the death penalty on a murder charge.
The story is established very quickly and though each character resists joining forces for the defense, it only takes about a 30 second scene each to convince them otherwise, and then it is straight into the trial (hence the title I suppose).This quick assembly and ever faster exposition makes the story harder to buy. I understand the film only clocks in a bit faster than an episode of Law and Order, but one wonders if it is all necessary if its going to be so hasty.
The team Modine’s character assembles are acceptably useful although Modine offers the best performance of the bunch. The investigator of the team uses seems incapable of expressing too much, and I found there to be a bit too much unwarranted sass in the performance of the female assistant as said sass cheapens the significance of their work when you consider a life is at stake.
The strategies of the two opposing attorneys in this trial seems rooted in character assassination. There seems to be just as much smug deflating of witnesses’ and attorneys’ credibility as there is presentation of evidence. Beyond the trial, a conspiracy is unveiled that must be resolved in order for the trial to serve justice properly.
The story is acceptable but thinks its a bit more clever than it really is. Part of this lies in the aforementioned sassy assistant whose role seems created solely to present a twist or new development in the plot with the most self-satisfied mien possible. A few cliches and a large handful of Christian messages later, we get a resolution that will soon be forgotten by the viewers.
Widescreen 1.85:1. The director did not use much flash in filming this piece. Trail films are generally dry and here we get a series of still frames for the lawyer’s performances. The picture is not the greatest but hardly bad. There are dark tones throughout and only rarely is there some fuzziness in the picture.
Dolby Digital 5.1. Just like the VIDEO portion, things are pretty dry. A few string arrangements for mood here and there, but no real notable composition. That does not detract from the presentation quality. Things are clear in all speakers, there just isn’t much to present.
Subtitles available in English, French and Spanish.
Audio Commentary by Director Gary Wheeler, Writer Robert Whitlow, and Writer/Producer Mark Freiburger: A pretty standard track where they offer some factual tidbits and praise for the production. It is nice to have the writer of the original novel involved, especially since he had a hand in the screenplay as well.
From the score to the supporting cast, nothing pops out as being all that special. This might be worth a viewing if you happen across it on television, but hardy worth a series of repeat viewings.