Like a Chess Game

I had some HBO time and that means I got to watch movies I rarely would see. I saw Runaway Jury after watching Searching for Bobby Fischer. I could not avoid the thought of Hackman and Cusack playing chess with the jury.

This movie is built in the same vein as most big business, conspiracy-perspective based movie. A business man is killed by a desperate day trader. Two years later, the case is taken to court in Louisiana. The widow is represented by Dustin Hoffman and they are suing the "Gun Industry" or more specifically, a fictional gun company. The big business side has employed a hyper-tech jury consultant played by Gene Hackman. Hackman's mercenary like service employs thugs, geeks, analysts, private detectives, and undercover women acting as bait for unsuspecting jurors. Hackman's firm profiles everyone on gigantic, well placed Apple computers. Meanwhile Hoffman is playing the underdog with a green jury consultant from Pennsylvania. Cusack plays a slightly more dimensional character than the easy stereotypes filled by Hoffman and Hackman.

Cusack and his partner, played by Rachel Weisz, appear to be working a confidence game with the entire trial. Cusack slips by Hackman's group and lands as a juror for the gun case. Weisz is the coordinator on the outside and contacts both sides to sell the outcome. Cusack seems quite capable of manipulating the other jurors for the highest bidder.

There is a lot of grandstanding and simple value tales of "believing in the American people." Even so, the script is fairly tight and the screenwriters throw in a couple of curves before letting the good guys win.

In reflection, this seems like a companion to The Insider - an optional companion but entertaining for a summer time viewing.

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