Runaway Jury

John Grisham adaptation asks searching questions

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OPENS JANUARY 16, CERT 15, 127 MINS

Runaway Jury focuses less on the courtroom than on the black art of jury profiling. Gene Hackman, in thunderous form as the scruple-free Rankin Fitch, is hired to assist gun manufacturer Vicksburg Arms, which is accused of allowing its weapons to fall into murderous hands. Fitch subjects jurors to an arsenal of covert high-tech surveillance to winkle out their prejudices and identify blackmailable weaknesses. Acquittal would seem assured if John Cusack and girlfriend Rachel Weisz weren’t playing an even subtler game. Despite a squirmingly happy-clappy ending, the flick has enough twists to keep you gripped, and poses serious questions about legal ethics and the jury system. A tendency to deliver sermons about gun control is curtailed by excellent performances. Cusack’s gift for boyish naivet

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