The Juror

A primer for sociopaths falling in love; a provocative psychological thriller. Alec Baldwin turns in a fine performance as a hit man with cool demeanor and active mind. No matter how bad you imagine this man might be, he manages to emanate an arousing sensuality alongside the danger he exudes and, as a result, is devastatingly frightening, fearful and 'hot'. Naturally, he's seductive: the guy uses spiritual teachings to guide his life. Poor Demi Moore, as Annie, finds the torment more than she can deal with and more than she bargained for. First she believes he's art dealer interested in buying her work. And not bad looking; after all, she is a single mother. Then she discovers the truth.

Well, what do you expect when you wind up on a jury panel that is to decide the fate of a well-known mobster. Somethin's gotta give. She is singled out by Baldwin, aka Teacher, because he recognizes the woman as spirited, clever, and quick-thinking. And besides, she has a 12-year-old son whose life can be threatened in order to get her to do whatever they want. Right? Not! Don't mess with mommy; it makes her so angry and gets her all confused. Who knows what she's liable to do?

The American public just doesn't seem to tire of drama tied into the courtroom one way or another. (I wonder how long we'll have to wait for O.J., the movie?)

Screenwriter Ted Tally, who won an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs, builds the tension nicely throughout the film. Nevertheless, I must admit that there is a slight feeling of it being 'wrap-up time' at the end of the film, at which point the built-up frustrations of the victim (and the audience's mounting empathy) must be released. It might have been more interesting to take another route. Up till that point, however, a nicely-rendered, neatly-taut, tense study of a bad situation.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett