A Time to Kill – 1996

A Time to Kill – 1996
Drama – Legal Thriller

A Time to Kill is another movie adaptation of the John Grisham novel of the same name and the last of our four spotlighted John Grisham novel-turn-movie selections this month. It may be the last but, in my opinion, it is one of the best.

Matthew McConaughey plays the role of small town attorney, Jake Brigance in his first big role and what I consider one of his best. Ashley Judd plays the role of Jake’s wife, Carla. Sandra Bullock plays Ellen Roark, a law student willing to work for free to assist Jake in his effort to represent Carl Lee Hailey, played by Samuel L. Jackson, for the murder of two men who raped and beat his 10 year old daughter. An interesting cast selection is Donald Sutherland playing Jake’s mentor and good guy, Lucien Wilbanks, and Sutherland’s real life son, Keifer Sutherland playing Freddie Lee Cobb, bad guy.

The setting is Canton, Mississippi in the mid 1980’s. A ten year old African American girl is raped by two white racist men. In retaliation, the young girl’s father, Carl Lee Hailey, played by Samuel L. Jackson, murders the two men and is arrested. He hires Jake Brigance, a white man, to represent him in his case. Will justice prevail? Can justice prevail?

The book, A Time to Kill, was John Grisham’s first novel. It was inspired by a real live case where a young girl was raped. Mr. Grisham speculated what the outcome might be if the father of the victim took the law into his own hands. His idea to explore the conflicts and feelings this action would stir up turned out to produce an incredibly compelling, emotionally charged book and the movie is one you should see.


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