Criminal Law Martin Campbell

The consensus on this movie is that it’s well-directed mediocrity, its plot twists obvious and its psychology rather ridiculous. To this I respond that these are commonplace of the genre — The Silence of the Lambs is no more psychologically sound and everybody seems to like it. This one deals with a lawyer (Gary Oldman), who through chicanery and misdirection wins the freedom of a wealthy murder suspect (Kevin Bacon). Unfortunately, it becomes clear that not only did Bacon do the deed but also he’s a serial killer willing to repeat the crime over and over. When the psycho is investigated for his new crimes, he again retains his favourite lawyer, but what he doesn’t know is that said lawyer is looking to undermine the case to make things right. I suppose the film falls apart in the final quarter, providing a climax that doesn’t quite live up to the tension that precedes it, but until then it’s a crackerjack performance by director Martin Campbell. Perhaps I might have agreed with the naysayers were it not for his taut direction; he proves brilliant at using space to surround the characters and suggest something lurking that may or may not be there. It’s not enough to make it a masterpiece but it papers over some of Mark Kasdan’s patchy script and keeps you watching longer than you would with a less sparkling helmer. Still, the movie wouldn’t work without credible lead performances and the two stars are more than up to the challenge; Oldman had not yet descended into self-parody when he shone here and Bacon surprises with a reserved turn that serves his bughouse character. Perhaps it’s a time killer but there are far worse ways to kill time. (Fox)