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‘The Firm’ Movie Review

‘The Firm’ Movie Review

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Our first film today is Sydney Pollack’s 1993 thriller “The Firm”. Tom Cruise plays a young, idealistic Harvard law graduate. But when he joins a prestigious law firm in Memphis, Tennessee, elation gives way to a creeping sense… that it might just all be too good to be true.

And oh wow. Now where, oh where, to begin with this film! An absolutely pulsating jazz-piano soundtrack by Dave Grusin kicks the movie off at breakneck pace, right from the opening credits:

We’re plunged into the heady world of a Harvard graduate being headhunted by the very best law-firms in America. This is a masterclass in movie-opening exposition.

This is really a character-driven crime drama. There’s just such a strong cast at work, here, from legends like Gene Hackman and Ed Harris, right through to some of the best character actors of the time. Holly Hunter was Oscar nominated for her brilliantly idiosyncratic supporting role, here.

Also turning in excellent work are Jeane Tripplehorn as the passionate-yet-level-headed wife, and the inimicable Wilfred Brimley as a very po-faced security chief. Yes, he of those sci-fi-greats “The Thing” and “Cocoon”, from the 1980s. We also have Hal Holbrook, who’s spookily impenetrable, as one of the law firm bosses.

And, of course, there’s the impossible-to-ignore GARY BUSEY. Now you might not recognise the name, but you’ve probably seen Busey Senior in various Hollywood movies from the 90s, including the superb Point Break, alongside Keanu Reeves. And here in The Firm, he’s got a scenery-chewing bit-part as a private detective – great fun!

There’s so much excellent repartis, between pairs of performers in this film. As for Tom Cruise, well: a lot’s been written about Mess’r Cruise over the years, both good and bad. As – I suppose – is wont of a major global superstar. And – like him or not – here Tom Cruise shows amazing focus and versatility. It’s one of his strongest performances, for me.

All this great character acting builds a disquieting tale of corruption and moral hazard. The film arguably loses pace a little in the third act, and I’d argue that overall, the movie runs a bit long. But that does little to detract from a very accomplished piece of crime cinema.

Thematically, The Firm really forces us to ask ourselves where the line between right and wrong gets drawn. When does the law of the state end, and our own personal morality… begin? Do lawmen themselves have a right to bend the rules, when necessity dictates? All sorts of moral dilemmas are very adroitly posited, in this film.

So if you’ve found the latest online streaming offerings… a bit thin on the ground? Do yourself a favor, and add The Firm to the top of your playlist.

Movie Rating: 4 / 5

This ‘The Firm’ Movie Review was part of an episode of our movie podcast. Show Notes for this episode:

In this episode of More Than A Movie, we start by interviewing our guest, director Vanessa Vella.

We next review ‘Munich‘, Steven Spielberg’s powerful espionage thriller, that was partially-shot here in Malta. [jump to 14:47 above].

We then review our three main Crime Dramas That Let You Decide, for this week’s episode:

The Firm (1993) – [jump to 17:47 above]

Heat (1995) – [jump to 21:36 above]

The Captive (2014) – [jump to 25:30 above]

More Than A Movie is written and presented by Andrew Bonello. It was originally recorded and aired on Campus FM Radio, at the University of Malta.

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