Monday, December 12, 2011
(June 1993, U.S.)
John Grisham's THE FIRM was one of those books that you just simply HAD to read twenty years ago because everyone on this planet seemed to be reading it and to not read it would have been deemed practically irresponsible...kind of like having to read THE DA VINCI CODE many years later. When I read THE FIRM, I kept trying to picture who would be the perfect actor to play the lead character Mitch McDeere and I kept coming up with Charlie Sheen because his performance in WALL STREET (1987) was still very fresh in my mind. Well, lo and behold, we get Tom Cruise instead and I can't say I was disappointed because his presence and performance in most of his films greatly indulges that guilty pleasure I have to watch him on screen. It's shameful, but unavoidable.
So, for those you have been deep under a rock back in the very early 1990s, THE FIRM is legal thriller that promises young attorney Mitch McDeere (Cruise) the temptations of money, bonuses, a low interest mortgage, a leased Mercedes and his student loan paid in full (do law firms still actually DO THIS in today's unstable economy??) when he joins the small tax law firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke in Memphis, Tennessee. These wonderful temptations cause Mitch's temporary blindness to the fact the firm is actually a front for the Chicago mafia. The FBI contact Mitch, asking him for information and informing him not only of the firm's dark secret but the fact that every associate that has ever tried to leave the firm has ended up murdered. So his life as he knows it is forever changed. He has a choice: work with the FBI and risk being discovered by the firm, or stay with the firm knowing that at sometime he'll get involved with laundering mob money and in the end go to jail when the FBI inevitably cracks the firm. Either way, Mitch will lose his life as he knows it. Are you following all this so far?
So, as cliche might have it, our hero devises a plan that will not only break the firm, but save his own ass and career, as well. Now here's the real interesting part, people. Without giving too much away, Sidney Pollack's film version of THE FIRM actually constructs a more interesting and plausible resolution than the book did. This is very rare in films, indeed. But if you were of the many millions who read the book, then you'll also remember what a real anti-climactic and rather boring letdown the ending was. The film was pretty much obligated to improve that situation, and in my opinion, did, and very well, too.
By the way, THE FIRM is one of those Tom Cruise films where you get to see him running at top speed while making that ridiculous and rather funny face that has almost become a physical signature with him. You see what I mean...guilty pleasure!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Mitch McDeere: "Let me get this straight: you want me to steal files from the firm, turn them over to the FBI, send my colleagues to jail."
Wayne Tarrance: "They roped you into this."
Mitch: "Breach attorney-client privilege, thus getting myself disbarred for life, then testify in open court against the Mafia."
Wayne: "Well, unfortunately, Mitch..."
Mitch: "Let me ask you something: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND!?"