Ghosts of Mississippi
Does the subject of a legal thriller even matter anymore? Directors must love this genre, because they need only plop the story into the "legal thriller" template like a big old turd. Splat! There you go: movie.
Take one particular scene in Rob Reiner's "Ghosts of Mississippi" as an example. Attorney Bobby DeLaughter (Alec Baldwin) has been working on reprosecuting the 1963 murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evars, thirty years after it happened. At wits end, he walks out of his office and into an elevator.
If you're an experienced legal thriller sufferer, you know exactly what will happen next. The film has started to drag by now, so Reiner has to do something before bored theater patrons instigate popcorn fights and roam the theater looking to stomp anyone who even looks like a lawyer. Sure enough, Reiner sends up the flare of incompetence in the form of a tight shot on Bobby's look of surprise as the elevator door opens. He's either sighted a cockroach the size of a Volkswagen or Mrs. Evers (Whoopi Goldberg), laden with the very documents that Bobby needs to win the case.
Further adding to the predictability is the fact that "Ghosts," a true story, would never have been made a film had DeLaughter lost the case against racist Byron De La Beckwith (James Woods). Does anyone really think that Reiner is going to waste two hours trying to impart the concepts of "justice" and "realism" in the same movie? Imagine the ending: Racists win; righteous white people lose. And in the words of philosopher Michael Myers, "maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt."
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