Film Scouts Reviews

"The Chamber"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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It is an interesting conspiracy story, even for master legal author John Grisham. A young
lawyer decides to defend his grandfather, an unrepentant racist who has been convicted
of killing two children in the course of blowing up a civil rights worker. Unfortunately,
Chris O'Donnell is the bland vanilla attorney whose lack of screen presence is exacerbated by playing opposite the powerful Gene Hackman. While O'Donnell tries to convince the
courts to grant clemency so that his grandfather will not face the gas chamber, it is he
who needs the clemency. Hackman is quite capable of facing anything except a life without
meaning. And in his final hours, Hackman gives a farewell speech that almost redeems
the entire affair. In the middle of a lot of double-dealing with the governor's office is Lela
Rochon as the assistant who has been assigned to O'Donnell. If anyone
can tell me what happens with her at the end of the story, I'd like to know. On a more positive note, former athlete Bo Jackson gives an adequate performance as the prison guard who
has reached an understanding with Hackman's hate-filled character. Faye Dunaway reminds
us of her former greatness as the socialite with secrets galore. But these moments aren't
enough to make "The Chamber" watchable. Rated R.

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