Directed by Joel Schumacher

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt, Ashley Judd, Charles S. Dutton, Donald Sutherland, Patrick McGoohan and Keifer Sutherland

"A Time To Kill"

Opened: Wed., July 24, 1996 | Rated: R

The hype is true. Matthew McConaughey is all that. Riveting, thoughtful and presence enough to share the screen with an actor that can emote as well as Samuel L. Jackson. And he's handsome, to be sure.

But even more, he can carry a movie filled with stars on both sides of the camera.

Director Joel Schumacher ("The Client," "Batman Returns") took a risk, and it paid off big.

"A Time To Kill" is the predictable but engrossing screen adaptation of John Grisham's first book. A story of an up and coming lawyer (McConaughey) who defends a small town Mississippi black man (Jackson) on trial for killing two redneck who raped his young daughter and left her for dead.

No emotional stone goes unturned in this movie. From one rapist's mother seeing her son mowed down in the courthouse, to the fear of our hero's wife (the always wonderful Ashley Judd) and daughter, to the stressful toll the trial takes on racial tensions in the town and on McConaughey himself.

Of course even with an all-white jury you already know how it ends, don't you? But the journey is the story and that journey is peppered with impacting images and driving dialogue.

Two speeches, one Jackson gives to McConaughey in his jail cell ("You're one of them. What would it take to convince you to let me go?") and one McConaughey gives to the jury are absolutely chilling.

The all star cast (save McConaughey, of course) includes Sandra Bullock as a sassy law student, Donald Sutherland as the young lawyer's mentor, Oliver Platt as a sleazy divorce litigator and his best friend, Keifer Sutherland as yet another rage-filled heavy, the incomparable Kevin Spacey as the ruthless prosecutor and Patrick McGoohan (TV's "The Prisoner") as the self-righteous judge.

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