A Civil Action

January 28, 2012 3 Min Read

Review by: Chad Estrella

Plot: What’s it about?

Jan Schlichtman (John Travolta) is the front man for a small but successful law firm that specializes in personal injury cases who take on the case of a group of parents in a New England town. Children have been stricken with illness and birth defects supposedly by contaminated well water caused by some local businesses dumping waste. When Travolta finds out that two major corporations own these alleged polluters he sees a big paycheck in his firm’s future. Believing he has the corporations over a barrel Travolta gambles that the defendants will blink first but underestimates one of the opposing counsels played by Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now) who pulls the rug out from under Travolta…smells like victory. Jan’s partners (William H. Macy…Mystery Men) for one can’t believe the risks he takes with all their careers on the line. In the battle of his life Jan tries to take down Goliath but loses sight of his clients welfare…maybe Shakespeare was right. Down but not out, Travolta must find a new angle to help his clients and regain his dignity.

Being based on a true story lends this courtroom drama a good edge of suspense. Some fine characters played by Dan Hedaya (Cheers) and Tony Shalhoub…the taxi driver in Wings…add to a well-rounded cast. John Lithgow (The Manhattan Project) plays the unsympathetic judge who makes Travolta’s job even harder. A well-paced script and a natural suspicion of the justice system help you get caught up in the drama and root for the underdog. I enjoyed it more than some of the fictional “Lawyer” movies of late mainly because it is based on a real case, which makes it credible.

Video: How does it look?

Excellent widescreen DVD that looked great through the whole movie.

Audio: How does it sound?

Surprisingly even the dialogue and effects sounded awesome…the rain even sounded great. Not much action to really work the system but the musical score…another feather in Danny Elfman’s cap worked right along with the movie. In the end we are treated to Take Me To The River (The Talking Heads)…turn this part way up.

Supplements: What are the extras?

A production featurette and a trailer leave me wanting for much more and “other selections” are a waste on all DVD’s. Luckily its very good movie so I’ll overlook it this time.

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