Murder in the First [Blu-Ray] Marc Rocco

Murder in the First [Blu-Ray] Marc Rocco
Careful to note that this political biopic of sorts was "inspired" by true events, Murder in the First (the mostly forgotten mid-'90s drama about the downfall of Alcatraz) unfolds with the heaviest of hands, telling the audience exactly what to think and feel at any given moment. To heighten empathy, the central prisoner protagonist, Henri Young (Kevin Bacon), is noted as a harmless petty criminal, having stolen five dollars from a general store that held a post office, thus magnifying his crime and having his prison sentence exaggerated. Eventually kept in solitary confinement and tortured for three years straight after a failed escape attempt, Young is understandably distraught and animalistic when thrust back into the general prison population and stabs the man that ratted on him in the throat with a spoon. Inevitably, this sort of open and shut trial is left to the green and idealistic James Stamphill (Christian Slater), who wages an underdog battle against the system, positing Alcatraz as the real perpetrator of the murder. Exacerbating these contrivances is the fact that in real life, Henri Young was actually a bank robber and murderer that had been in other prisons prior to winding up at Alcatraz. In addition, the lawyers that defended him were actually prominent San Francisco attorneys that used the insanity plea, which is far different than the protracted melodrama depicted within this film. Had director Marc Rocco and writer Dan Gordon injected a little bit of human inconsistency and imperfection into this very one-sided look at a court case, it might have had some artistic, lasting merit. But as it stands, this is merely a reiteration of the standard American David and Goliath battle, deluding people into believing their voice matters. No supplements are included with the standard Blu-Ray conversion. (Warner)