A wasted cast plods through this tedious courtroom drama about a female juror who is blackmailed by the mob and then seeks revenge. Single mother Valerie Aston (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) is the perfect juror: she believes it's her civic duty to serve and understands the presumption of innocence. She's been selected for the trial of sleazy mob boss Rusty...read more
A wasted cast plods through this tedious courtroom drama about a female juror who is blackmailed by the mob and then seeks revenge.
Single mother Valerie Aston (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) is the perfect juror: she believes it's her civic duty to serve and understands the presumption of innocence. She's been selected for the trial of sleazy mob boss Rusty Pirone (Armand Assante), whose team of hit men has been busily eliminating the government's witnesses. Just to be sure, Pirone orders thug Tommy Vesey (William Hurt) to intimidate Aston, and Vesey warns her that she and her son will be killed if she votes to convict. Aston moves her son to her father's farm for safety. Later, Vesey reinforces the threat by sending her photos of her son on the farm. When prosecuting attorney Daniel Graham (Gabriel Byrne) blackmails Pirone's uncle, Johnny Verona (Joe Santos), into giving some very damaging testimony, Pirone gets nervous. He makes a surprise visit to Aston's apartment to make certain she's "on board," and then rapes her to make his position clear. In the jury room, Aston's not guilty vote is the lone holdout.
The hung jury frees Pirone, and Vesey, who is attracted to Aston, assures her that the ordeal is over. However, Graham begins investigating Aston with regard to jury tampering. When Pirone gets wind of this, he orders her execution. The hit team kidnaps her, but Vesey intervenes, sacrificing his own life in the process. Aston decides to take revenge. She contacts Pirone, makes some sexual overtures, and is invited to his private hideaway. There, each uses sex to disguise murderous intentions, but Aston is the one left standing at the end of the game. She brings her son home and prepares to resume a normal life.
Ineptly paced and thoroughly predictable, TRIAL BY JURY features stock characters in tired situations spouting stilted dialogue. Director and co-screenwriter Heywood Gould, who helmed the equally dull and tendentious ONE GOOD COP (1991), may actually believe that this boneheaded affair is a hard-hitting message film about the criminal justice system, and his apparent seriousness ruins any potential for campy fun. With her big, black eyes and delicate features, Whalley-Kilmer is lovely to look at, but sleepwalks through the movie, as does Hurt, whose phony accent is even more distracting than hers. (Profanity, violence, sexual situations.)