The Firm

by Tom Ingram

Genre Crime; Thriller
People Tom Cruise; Jeanne Tripplehorn; Sydney Pollack d.p.; John Grisham w.; Jeanne Tripplehorn; Gene Hackman; Ed Harris; Holly Hunter; Hal Holbrook; David Strathairn; Terry Kinney; Wilford Brimley; Gary Busey; Tobin Bell; Dave Grusin m.; Robert Towne w.
/10 8

A promising young lawyer (Cruise) is given a cushy job at a Tennessee law firm, only to discover that The Firm (you can hear the capitals when they say it) is engaged in some shady dealings. Several distinctive actors have great character performances: Jeanne Tripplehorn is his wife, Gene Hackman is the lawyer assigned to him as a mentor, Ed Harris is an FBI agent, Wilford Brimley is the firm’s enforcer, and Holly Hunter is the secretary for an absolutely insane PI played by none other than Gary Busey. Based on the novel by John Grisham.

This is the quintessential early 90s Tom Cruise thriller. It’s a little on the long side and the plot is full of holes, but the writing is serviceable, the performances are top-notch, and the rest of the movie is so well put together that you can hardly fault it. It’s not a great movie, but it makes for a great evening.

Sydney Pollack (Three Days of the Condor) directs, bringing his skill at paranoia thrillers to the table. The music is by Dave Grusin, who also did the music for Condor, and consists mainly of solo piano, an interesting stylistic choice. In terms of sheer tension, Condor is clearly the better movie, but The Firm is not nearly as bleak. I had always thought of Grisham as a Crichtonesque hack, but between this and Runaway Jury (also featuring Hackman), it appears that his books make surprisingly good movies.

Seriously, see this movie. Gary Busey alone makes it worth it.

2h34m; 1993; Colour; Oscar nods for Best Supporting Actress (Hunter) and Original Score