5.7/10
3,297
23 user 19 critic

Criminal Law (1988)

A lawyer defends a killer, but soon after he wins, he finds out that the killer is guilty.

Director:

Martin Campbell

Writer:

Mark Kasdan
Reviews

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
1 win. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Chattahoochee (1989)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In 1955 Florida, a Korean vet has a breakdown and is incarcerated in a "maximum security" mental health prison, where patients are abused.

Director: Mick Jackson
Stars: Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Frances McDormand
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

An aimless young man, Johnny (Gary Oldman), is sent to prison. He entrusts his beloved dog, Evie, to the care of his former lover and best friend, Frank (Sir Alan Bates). When he gets out ... See full summary »

Director: Colin Gregg
Stars: Alan Bates, Max Wall, Liz Smith
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An eager and idealistic young attorney defends an Alcatraz prisoner accused of murdering a fellow inmate. The extenuating circumstances: his client had just spent over three years in solitary confinement.

Director: Marc Rocco
Stars: Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman
Defenseless (1991)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A lawyer is hired to defend an old college friend accused of murdering her husband.

Director: Martin Campbell
Stars: Barbara Hershey, Sam Shepard, Mary Beth Hurt
Track 29 (1988)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A doctor's wife tires of his obsession with model trains, and spends her days wondering about the son she gave up for adoption at birth. While eating at a roadside café, she encounters a ... See full summary »

Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: Theresa Russell, Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A womanizing, crooked cop on the payroll of the mafia is confronted with the reality of his double life after he is asked to kill a beautiful and ruthless Russian gangster.

Director: Peter Medak
Stars: Gary Oldman, Lena Olin, Wallace Wood
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

This film is the story of the spectacular life and violent death of British playwright Joe Orton. In his teens, Orton is befriended by the older, more reserved Kenneth Halliwell, and while ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Gary Oldman, Alfred Molina, Vanessa Redgrave
The Backwoods (2006)
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

An English couple's holiday in Spain is interrupted when they discover a girl imprisoned in a cabin.

Director: Koldo Serra
Stars: Gary Oldman, Virginie Ledoyen, Paddy Considine
Crime | Romance | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A romantic comedy which explores the pressures on police officers.

Director: Harold Becker
Stars: Robert Foxworth, Paula Prentiss, Harry Dean Stanton
Lemon Sky (1988)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An out of high school teen from the midwest moves to San Diego, California in the 1950s to live with his estranged father and new family. Escaping his past may not be as easy as he had hoped...or is it all a dream?

Director: Jan Egleson
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Tom Atkins, Lindsay Crouse
The Contender (2000)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Senator Laine Hanson is a contender for U.S. Vice President, but information and disinformation about her past surfaces that threatens to derail her confirmation.

Director: Rod Lurie
Stars: Joan Allen, Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges
Cop (1988)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An obsessive, insubordinate homicide cop is convinced a serial killer is loose in the Hollywood area and disobeys orders in order to catch him.

Director: James B. Harris
Stars: James Woods, Lesley Ann Warren, Charles Durning
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Oldman ... Ben Chase
Kevin Bacon ... Martin Thiel
Tess Harper ... Det. Stillwell
Karen Young ... Ellen Faulkner
Joe Don Baker ... Det. Mesel
Sean McCann ... Jacob Fischer
Ron Lea ... Gary Hull
Michael Sinelnikoff ... Prof. Clemens
Karen Woolridge Karen Woolridge ... Claudia Curwen (as Karen Wooldridge)
Ali Giron ... Isabel Fuertes
Rob Roy Rob Roy ... Ethan Parks
Terrence Labrosse Terrence Labrosse ... Judge (as Terrence La Brosse)
Barbara Jones Barbara Jones ... Sandra Massina (as Barbara Ann Jones)
Jeannie Walker Jeannie Walker ... Mrs. Monroe
Tyrone Benskin ... Jackson
Edit

Storyline

A rising young attorney successfully defends a man accused of murder, only to have the same type of murder then happen again. Right away the previously defended man hires the attorney again, and although the attorney is quite certain that he is the killer, he agrees to again defend him... much to the consternation of his friends. However, he explains that by being his attorney he will be better able to catch the man in a mistake... and on this the rest of the film develops, with the killer playing a cat and mouse game with the attorney until, at last, they both must recognize that they are not all that different. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A killer is back on the streets. The only one who can stop him is the lawyer who set him free. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 April 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Frauenmörder See more »

Filming Locations:

Québec, Canada See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$9,974,446
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Final produced screenplay of Mark Kasdan. See more »

Goofs

Fuel pumps display amounts in liters even though the location is supposed to be in Massachusetts. See more »

Quotes

Martin Thiel: I love the rain... it washes everything away... makes it clean.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Boston based neo-noir fails to ignite.
12 November 2017 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Criminal Law is directed by Martin Campbell and written by Mark Kasdan. It stars Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, Tess Harper, Karen Young and Joe Don Baker. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Philip Meheux.

Boston attorney Ben Chase (Oldman) successfully defends Martin Thiel (Bacon) who is on trial for a sexually aggravated murder. But not long after Chase comes to realise Thiel's guilt and sets about correcting the wrong he helped orchestrate.

If you have never seen a legal thriller before, or a serial killer based neo-noir for that matter, then Criminal Law might just poke its head above average waters. Unfortunately the well is quite full of such filmic exercises, and much better they are too!

It's all so formulaic, where the potent promise of character disintegration into a hellish noir infused world is never fully realised. Instead we get characters whose actions are at times baffling, others who are under used or pointless scene fillers, and a screenplay cracking under the strain of a near two hour run time. Add in some poor accents for the setting, one of Goldsmith's worst scores and a damp squib finale, well you are struggling continually to get on board with it all. There's a high energy sex scene where the makers are clearly showing what their intentions were, in how stuck in a web of turmoil Chase is, but it just proves how muddled and rickety the narrative is.

Positives come in the form of the visual look of the piece, Meheux (GoldenEye/Casino Royale) showing some nice stylish touches, most notably a dark underground set of scenes where slatted shadows operate as the noir staple of a character psychologically imprisoned, but these moments are fleeting and the story begs for more. Elsewhere, the killer's motives are at least interesting, adding in a controversial moral poser, and Elizabeth Shepherd as Thiel's mother is superbly cold and detached (pic needed more of her). But ultimately it's a disappointing film and not recommended as a must see. 5/10


3 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 23 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed