A Harvard law graduate joins a prestigious firm despite the fact that things seem too good to be true.
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ďHey Ray, wouldn't it be funny if I went to Harvard, you went to Jail and we both ended up surrounded by crooks.Ē Mitch (Cruise) tells this joke to his brother, but in every joke there is a hint of truth and Mitch has no idea how close the truth he actually is. He should have seen the warning signs already at the job interview. Here one of the partners informs Mitch that they bribed a Harvard clerk to find out his highest offer in order to raise it by 20%. What Mitch mistakes for determination should have been taken as a warning sign.
After starting with the firm, two of Mitchís co-workers are killed in a mysterious boating accident in the Cayman Islands. Then Mitch runs into two men at a diner that seem to be affiliated with the FBI. They donít identify themselves but merely let Mitch know that they are watching him. Now Mitch canít ignore the obvious anymore and he starts looking into the Firms activities. Turns out no one have ever left the Firm alive.
There is obvious tension between the spouses when it comes to money. Abby (Tripplehorn) apparently comes from other circumstances than Mitch. He had to work extra during law school and is ashamed of the fact that his mother lives in a trailer park. So when all his hard work finally pays off in job offers with 6 or 7 figure salaries, the money blinds him and he doesnít ask any questions. The turn of events will however make him realize that money isnít everything. And that the love him and his wife share is worth so much more.
It would be interesting enough if it was Mitch versus The Firm, but there are also other players involved. Thereís the FBI led by agent Wayne Tarrance (Harris). And thereís the mob, the Moralto family. We the viewers are basically caught in the middle as one twist after another unfolds. Sometimes we know more than the characters, but more often they have us stunned. Especially Mitch turns out to be more than calculating. Information is the key to victory here.
The late Sydney Pollack, director, producer and actor definitely put his directorial mark on this movie. The transitions are smooth, he gets the most out of his actors and the locations are beautiful. Especially the scenes shot at the Cayman Islands. An interesting footnote is that the hotel scenes at the Peabody were actually shot in a private apartment in the Shrine building. Why? It had a better view of the Mississippi River. Thatís how Pollack worked.
Oscar winner Pollack, Out of Africa (1985) did not get nominated for his work this time. The movie did however get 2 nominations: Marc Grusin for best music and Holly Hunter for best actress in a supporting role.
Grishamís novel is adapted truthfully and makes for a suspenseful movie. Itís a solid 4 out of 5. The movie is usually more than one step ahead of us viewers. No wonder itís the highest grossing Grisham movie to this day. The successful adaptation might have something to do with the fact that Robert Towne was involved in the writing process. Towne who is best known for his Oscar winning script Chinatown (1974) is considered to be one of the best screenwriters alive. Next time it rains then rent The Firm, cuddle up in front of the TV and settle in for an entertaining ride.