Plot: What’s it about?
The summer of 1993 was a good year for Hollywood. Steven Spielberg and his dinosaurs raked in the cash, Tommy Lee Jones was chasing Harrison Ford all around Chicago in The Fugitive and Arnold Schwarzenegger proved that he could make a really, really bad movie with Last Action Hero. There was, of course, a little movie by the name of the The Firm which was the first of what was to be many adaptations of John Grisham’s novels. Cruise had just come off the highly-popular A Few Good Men, co-star Jeanne Tripplehorn herself coming off Basic Instinct and Gene Hackman had just picked up his second Academy Award for Unforgiven. Anticipation was high for this movie and it delivered on both a commercial and critical basis. The movie raked in over 150 million at the box office (good by even today’s standards) and co-star Holly Hunter picked up an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (she later lost to Anna Paquin for “The Piano.)
Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) is an idealistic young lawyer right out of Harvard Law. He’s been courted by every major firm from New York to Los Angeles, but a small firm by the name of Bendini, Lambert and Locke makes him an offer that he simply can’t refuse. The firm, however, is in Memphis – not exactly the most cosmopolitan city. He’s got a new car, new house, his student loan is paid off…life is good. But it’s not before long that he learns of some shady doings by his firm. Couple this that he’s being harassed by the FBI (Ed Harris) to be an informant. You see, Bendini, Lambert and Locke is in business with the Chicago mafia. Mitch’s dilemma is to keep his job, become an informant with the FBI and manage to not raise any eyebrows all the while keeping his wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn) happy. Life’s not exactly roses for Mitch. Can he pull it off?
The Firm was one of the best-selling novels of 1991 and as I stated, was the first of Grisham’s quartet of novels to get a big screen adaption. This was followed by The Pelican Brief, The Chamber and A Time to Kill, all doing very well in the box office. I do remember a little blurb in Entertainment Weekly looking back on the summer films that “Arnold Schwarzenegger is fallible – Tom Cruise is not.” Of course, as history has shown, Arnold has become Governor of California and Tom Cruise has spiraled into a frenzy of Scientology (yet still manages to make some decent movies). Admittedly, I’m not the fan of this movie that I was 15 years ago, but after seeing it again I think it’s held up pretty well. Cruise is perfect as Mitch McDeere and the supporting cast only enhances the film.
Video: How does it look?
This is the first foray into 4K territory for the film and there is a modest improvement in picture quality. And there’d better be, as that’s really the only thing that’s changed since the Blu-ray release over a decade ago. I’ve found some of the scenes in this film a bit bland from previous viewings, but with HDR some of those scenes now look the way they should. Colors have been improved as has detail, though the entire image has been cropped a bit to a more visually-pleasing 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It’s not that big of a change, though purists will most likely want the “entire” 1.85:1. You can’t please everyone. While not jaw-droppingly gorgeous, is is an improvement and that’s what we all want.
Audio: How does it sound?
There’s no remastered Dolby Atmos track, though it would have been welcome. Instead we get the same Dolby TrueHD track found on the Blu-ray. Dialogue is at the heart of the film, surrounds are used rather sparingly and the front stage takes the brunt of the mix. Dave Grusin’s jazzy score simply resonates throughout and is certainly one of the highlights of the movie. There’s not a lot to say here, while there are some sparse action sequences, most of the “action” is in the dialogue. There’s nothing too impressive here, but it sounds better than expected.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I kind of wish Paramount would have taken their budget to redo the cover art and unearthed a new supplement or two. But alas, all we get is the theatrical trailer.
The Bottom Line
The Firm is likely one of Tom Cruise’s films that won’t immediately spring into mind when you think of the actor. It was quite successful when it came out in the summer of 1993. Bearing in mind this was the same year that Jurassic Park and The Fugitive were in theaters as well. That’s not too shabby. As happy as I was to see this got a 4K release, the lack of any new supplements, a new audio mix and that god-awful cover art make this one a hard sale.
If you’re clamoring for the original cover art, I’ve got ya covered. Enjoy.