It was a trial for Judge Roy Hrab to watch this film.
Our review of Citizen Welles, published February 12th, 2002, is also available.
He lost his family. Now he must rediscover his faith.
Boring. Predictable. That pretty much covers it.
Defense attorney "Mac" McClain (Matthew Modine, Full Metal Jacket) is a suicidal wreck, having been emotionally destroyed by the deaths of his wife and two sons. And just when he's about to end it all, he gets a phone call from an old legal acquaintance, asking him to take a case. Mac agrees to defend a young man, Randy Wayne (Pete Thomason, To Save A Life), facing the death penalty for murder. Is Wayne innocent or guilty? Will McClain rediscover his faith? More importantly, is this movie merely boring or really boring?
The Trial is based on the novel by Robert Whitlow. I haven't read it, so I can't speak to the film's fidelity to the source material. But this is the type of film where we know how it will all end. And I can say without reservation this (Christian) faith reaffirming film is a predictable pile of clichés and no suspense. It plods along for 101 minutes with some ridiculous twists thrown into the mix in order to generate a little tension. However, to buy into "surprises" is to believe that the lawyers on both sides of the case are completely incompetent. The conclusion is equally asinine. This would have been better off as an hour-long, made-for-TV special.
The saving grace of the film, pardon the pun, is that the Christian message is delivered in a subtle fashion and not heavy handed. There are proverbs referenced and discussions of faith, but they are appropriate for the circumstances and not off-putting.
The acting is pretty wooden and unimpressive across the board, especially Modine. Yeah, he's supposed to be morose because his family died, but nobody speaks in an unemotional monotone all the time. Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) also shows-up and makes an appearance of little impact.
The audio and video transfers are fine with no problems to report.
The lone extra is a commentary track with Director Gary Wheeler, Author/Writer Robert Whitlow, and Writer/Producer Mark Freiburger.
This film is directed at a specific audience; however, Christian message or not, The Trial is a poor film, plain and simple.
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