This cowardly and inflammatory story of vigilante justice in a racist Southern town manages to come down squarely on the wrong side of everything. A TIME TO KILL seems to argue that America's racial problems aren't so bad because, even in the heart of bigoted
Mississippi, a black man can get away with murder.
Hard-working family man Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) murders the redneck scum who savagely rape and torture his 10-year-old daughter. Local lawyer Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) defends him, on the grounds that accused rapists don't deserve trials -- a justification of lynch-mob
reasoning that ought to raise the hairs on the back of anyone's neck. Joel Schumacher's adaptation of lawyer-turned-novelist John Grisham's first book takes a volatile and important issue -- nothing less than the state of race relations in America today -- and puts it at the service of shallow,
sensationalist spectacle. How thrilling to see the jackbooted thugs of the National Guard and the white-robed phalanx of the Ku Klux Klan streaming through the streets of a sleepy little town! What righteous fury we feel at the sight of subhuman rednecks abusing an innocent child! How
dramatic that when the Klan arrives, the lighting takes a turn for the hellish! What craven offal!
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