A Time to Kill

  • 15
  • Joel Schumacher (1996)
  • US
  • 143 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

This adaptation of John Grisham's first novel cleaned up at the box office and propelled the then unknown Matthew McConaughey to the front rank of Hollywood stars. McConaughey plays an inexperienced southern lawyer defending a working-class black father (Samuel L Jackson) who publicly murdered the man who abducted and raped his ten-year-old daughter. Sandra Bullock is the enthusiastic law student who offers to help McConaughey. In the redneck corner are politically ambitious district attorney Kevin Spacey and most of the small town of Clanton, Mississippi, where the Ku Klux Klan exerts a sinister influence. McConaughey makes a good fist of the lead role, but, as with most Grisham adaptations, the real strength is in the supporting turns - Spacey, Jackson, Donald and Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Cooper and Oliver Platt are all superb. It's a bit too long, but, as most lawyers charge by the hour, why should that be a surprise?

Plot Summary

Thriller based on John Grisham's bestselling novel, starring Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L Jackson, Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey. Carl Lee Hailey, a black Mississippi factory worker, shoots the two racist thugs who brutally assaulted his ten-year-old daughter. When white lawyer Jake Brigance takes on Hailey's case, long-standing tensions in the small town of Clanton come to the surface.

Cast and crew


Jake Brigance
Matthew McConaughey
Ellen Roark
Sandra Bullock
Carl Lee Hailey
Samuel L Jackson
Rufus Buckley
Kevin Spacey
Harry Rex Vonner
Oliver Platt
Sheriff Ozzie Walls
Charles S Dutton
Ethel Twitty
Brenda Fricker
Lucien Wilbanks
Donald Sutherland
Freddie Cobb
Kiefer Sutherland
Judge Omar Noose
Patrick McGoohan
Carla Brigance
Ashley Judd
Tonya Hailey
Rae'ven Larrymore Kelly
Norman Reinfield
Jonathan Hadary
Dr Rodeheaver
Anthony Heald
Gwen Hailey
Tonea Stewart
Pete Willard
Doug Hutchinson
Deputy Dwayne Powell Looney
Chris Cooper
Billy Ray Cobb
Nicky Katt
Stump Sisson
Kurtwood Smith
Reverend Isaiah Street
Joe Seneca
Dr Willard Tyrell "WT" Bass
M Emmet Walsh
Tim Nunley
John Diehl


Joel Schumacher

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Fortress Film Prods Ltd
Contains violence and some swearing.
Available on video and DVD
Certificate 15