Pelican Brief [1993]

Another John Grisham legal thriller comes to the screen, pairing Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts in a film directed by Alan J. Pakula, who is known for dark-hued suspense pictures such as Klute, The Parallax View, All the President's Men, and Presumed Innocent. The Pelican Brief isn't up to the level of those films, but it is a perfectly entertaining movie about a law student (Roberts) whose life is endangered when she discovers evidence of a conspiracy behind the killings of two Supreme Court justices. She enlists the help of an investigative reporter (Washington) and the two become fugitives. The charisma and chemistry of the leads goes a long way toward compensating for the story's shortcomings, as does a truly impressive supporting cast that includes Sam Shepard, John Heard, James B. Sikking, Tony Goldwyn, Stanley Tucci, Hume Cronyn, John Lithgow, William Atherton, and Robert Culp. --Jim Emerson

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