Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


CRIMINAL LAW (1988). Director: Martin Campbell.

Slick, well-acted nonsense presents a defense lawyer Ben Chase (Gary Oldman) who gets off a nutty serial killer Martin Thiel (Kevin Bacon), then discovers that he really is guilty and decides to risk disbarment by defending him on new charges and bringing him down while secretly working with the police. Surrrrre -- defense lawyers always do that sort of thing! The movie is never believable but a lot of it is dramatically handled and Oldman and Bacon give dynamic and committed performances. Tess Harper and Joe Don Baker are fine as the detectives pursuing Thiel, and Elizabeth Shepherd is wonderful as Martin's doctor mother. Shepherd made this film ten years after she played the crow-pecked Joan Martin in Damian: Omen II, but she looks even more attractive. The picture has some exciting scenes and suspenseful moments, but it's never able to make its central premise remotely believable.

Verdict: Definite suspension of disbelief required. **1/2.

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