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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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|ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, if you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.|
(2003), PG-13 -- ... no one is accountable for their own decisions any more.
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Mojo Films, New Regency Pictures, UNO Studios
Distribution (US): 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Director(s): Gary Fleder
Producer(s): Jeffrey Downer, Gary Fleder, Christopher Mankiewicz, Arnon Milchan
Novel: John Grisham
Screenplay: Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Rick Cleveland, Matthew Chapman
Cinematography/Camera: Robert Elswit
Music: Christopher Young
Film Editing: William Steinkamp
Casting: Deborah Aquila, Lisa Mae Fincannon, Mary Tricia Wood
Production Design: Nelson Coates
Art Direction: Scott Plauche
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6
Runaway Jury was definitely written by anti-gun activists and by folks who clearly support government control of the people using the recent big-tobacco settlement as template.
Two crooks are made heroes by causing things to happen illegally to win a case against a gun manufacturer for culpability in the murder of a father. Of course, the facts that a disgruntled employee pulled the trigger and that the trigger could not have pulled itself were only dutifully mentioned. And the only characters who were in support of the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms are portrayed as rednecks. Of course. My word! The power of the media! Too bad movies such as these do not say anything about how many lives are saved every year by gun-totin' rednecks. Nor do movies such as these say anything about the banana since it has been used to murder. Are we to take the "manufacturer" of those murderous bananas to court bemuse of their culpability in murder? How about the pillow manufacturer? Maybe the big three car manufacturers should be taken to court since people have commuted and will commit murder with cars.
The point being it is not the tools used that do the murdering. If someone wants to murder bad enough and a tool is to be used, s/he will find one. The ingenuity of McGiver(tm) is paled in comparison to that of people bent on murder. In other words, guns, bananas, cars and pillows don't kill people. People kill people. It seems, especially in movies, that no one is accountable for their own decisions any more.
Jacob Woods (Dylan McDermott) was a happily married man with wife, Celeste (Joanna Going) and young son, Henry (Jack Massey). Their world was idyllic and a picture postcard of the successful American family. Until one day! On that day, a disgruntled ex-employee ended it all for Celeste and Henry by taking Jacob's life. Life became unlike it ever was for the Woods.
Armed with an illegally purchased semi-automatic assault firearm, the disgruntled ex-employees of the New Orleans brokerage firm where Jacob was a high ranking employee entered the busy business hustle and bustle and opened fire indiscriminately (just like in the movies) then turned the gun on himself (unseen), killing 11 and injuring 5. Now you know where schoolyard shooters get their ideas. As the prosecutor for the Paducha, KY schoolyard shooter incident said, "Kids don't think up things like these on their own." Runaway Jury is PG-13. The 14 year old shooter of the Paducha, KY shooting said The Basketball Diaries was influential in his decision to shoot. The Basketball Diaries is rated R. It is one of the very few movies for which I make a recommendation -- to NOT see it. [1 Cor. 15:33]
Celeste decided that the gun manufacture was culpable for the crime. For failing to investigate dozens of sales of the same gun to the same individual, the company was blamed for the death of Jacob. Mrs. Woods secured the services of nice-guy attorney Wendell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) to sue the gun manufacturer. In a subplot, the movie suggests jury selection can win or lose the case; that there are people available to ensure jurors are selected that are sympathetic to a particular cause.
Enters expert jury consultant ... err... rather, jury selection tamperer, Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman). For a fee of $10 million Fitch is hired by the gun manufacturer to ensure the selected jurors were gun-friendly: Christians, who are portrayed as narrow-minded and even empty-headed; a military sergeant who had sniffed one too many puffs of gun smoke; others stereotypically portrayed as folks with the same number for their age and IQ.. And, of course, the advocates of abolishing guns were portrayed as law-abiding, responsible, intelligent and mature citizens.
Enters Nicholas Easter (John Cusack) who feigned an attitude of not wanting to serve jury duty but whose ulterior motives were the same as those of Marlee (Rachel Weisz), Easter's girlfriend and compatriot from the past. The common element in the past of both Nicholas and Marlee was they were both intimate witnesses of a school shooting at their high school. That common experience between Nicholas and Marlee brought them together to oppose Fitch and the gun manufacturer by applying their own brand of jury selection tampering. For $15 million. [Ps. 62:10] It was the investigation by Fitch's agent of Nicholas' attendance at Bloomington University (Indiana) that tipped off Fitch and his gang.
A very unusual though righteous segment was presented as a blind man (I can't remember his name but we've seen him before), who was excused by the judge because of his blindness, vied for the honor to serve on the jury. Not only did he get the selection under non-discrimination, he served as the foreman of the jury. I remember the time I served on a jury I was the one chosen to be the foreman, or I was suckered into it. We had to be unanimous. Arrrrgh! If jury duty is commonly like the one I served and like that portrayed in the movie (a strange coincidence), trying to supervise jury proceedings is like trying to make heads or tails out of a playground fight.
Though I would like to tell you more about this film so that this report would not sound so choppy and disconnect, I won't spoil the movie any further should you decide the listing in the Findings/Scoring section is acceptable. When all was said and done, Celeste and Henry get $111 million.
But I will tell you about "Bloomington University", Bloomington, Indiana. The chemistry, psychology, calculus, sociology, anthropology, almost physics plus a few other of my degree hours came from "Bloomington University", which is Indiana University, Bloomington campus. I spent most of my adolescent and early adult life in Bloomington, Indiana and can tell you credibly there is no "Bloomington University" in Bloomington, Indiana unles it has changed since I left Indiana. Been there. Done that.
Runaway Jury is a rather unique composition in my experience. Young and old professionals working together like the misty waterfall quality of a harpsichord; Hoffman and Hackman being the base tones - the river of the waterfall, with Cusack and Weisz being the harmonic tones - the mist of the waterfall. Without both there would be no waterfall, just water falling. This style of teamwork brings a new perspective to modern performing arts. High wattage salty performers Hoffman and Hackman chime together with much younger Cusack and Weisz in a bold but smooth polyphony of the ever-changing world of popular entertainment. They did a good job. Too bad the curtain of sensory resonance was peppered with some rather sour notes.
Everyone had a voice in smearing the script with foul language of some sort or another [Prov. 17:20], including God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and the most foul of the foul words [Col. 3:8]. Sexual immorality was "lightly" represented as a heterosexual couple end up in bed together, making out, along with a couple innuendo [1Ths. 4:2-5]. The foul language and the sexual immorality form the most of the causes of loss of points but the consumption of tobacco and alcohol numerous times, the alcohol used once to "soothe nerves", did not help the final score [Eph. 5:18]. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section reveals all that was noted.
A note to some of our visitors. For those of you who keep asking what is the most foul of the foul words, what difference does it make? Use of it is the use of foul language. I will not specify it as many secular movie review sites do (some even use it). If I were to specify it enough for you to know what it is, even by seemingly "safe" ambiguous abbreviation or innuendo, the word would form in your mind and I would be as guilty of the sin of using such language as those who do. So don't ask. I won't tell you. But I will tell you that even the MPAA recognizes it as a word that the use of which in movies is worthy of special protective action.
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.
***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
Single Christian Network
|There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|