Watch Criminal Law
- 1 hr 57 min
Criminal Law is a 1988 crime thriller directed by Martin Campbell, starring Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, and Tess Harper. The film follows a hard-edged criminal defense attorney, Ben Chase (played by Gary Oldman), who takes on a case defending a wealthy and privileged young man named Martin Thiel (played by Kevin Bacon), accused of sexually assaulting and murdering two young women. While Martin, at first, seems like a model client, Chase starts to suspect that he may be hiding something, and soon uncovers a web of lies and deceit that leads him down a twisted and dangerous path.
The film opens with the gruesome discovery of the two young women's bodies in a remote area outside of Boston. Detective David Stillwell (played by Joe Don Baker) is convinced that Martin Thiel is the murderer, but despite all the evidence pointing toward him, Martin maintains his innocence. Enter Ben Chase, who, despite his abrasive and unlikeable personality, is a brilliant attorney who never loses a case. He is intrigued by Martin and decides to take on the case, determined to win no matter what.
From the outset, it is clear that Martin is a deeply troubled individual with an unhealthy obsession with death and power. He seems to enjoy manipulating people, and as the trial heats up, he begins to play mind games with Chase, challenging him at every turn. As Chase digs deeper into the case, he uncovers shocking and disturbing evidence that suggests that Martin may indeed be the killer. The closer he gets to the truth, the more he begins to question his own morals and ethics, wondering if winning the case is worth compromising his own principles.
Kevin Bacon gives a superbly creepy and unsettling performance as Martin, portraying him as a complex and multi-layered character who is almost impossible to read. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that Martin is not the only one with secrets to hide. Chase also has his own demons to face, and the film delves into his backstory, revealing a past full of trauma and abuse that has shaped who he is today.
The chemistry between Oldman and Bacon is electric, and their scenes together crackle with tension and intensity. Tess Harper also delivers a strong performance as Ellen Faulkner, Martin's former teacher, and lover, who becomes a key witness in the trial.
The film is well-paced and tightly edited, building to a nail-biting finale that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats. However, despite its strengths, the film is not without its flaws. Some of the plot twists feel contrived and forced, and the film's portrayal of women is dated and problematic. That said, Criminal Law is still a highly entertaining and engaging thriller that is sure to keep viewers guessing until the very end.
In conclusion, Criminal Law is a highly compelling and well-acted crime thriller that offers a fresh take on the classic courtroom drama genre. With standout performances from Gary Oldman and Kevin Bacon, this is a film that will keep viewers riveted from beginning to end. While it may not be a perfect film, it is certainly one that is worth watching for anyone who enjoys a good old-fashioned thriller with plenty of twists and turns.
Criminal Law is a 1989 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 57 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.6.