Criminal Law movie
Criminal Law

Criminal Law Movie Review And Ratings (1988)

| February 8, 2021

The Criminal Law Movie kicks off with a gripping thrill but eventually makes the audience feel disgusted towards the end. It is a movie that is bound to make you hold tight onto your seats at the beginning but will want to make you get up as it progresses. 

Barring the pathetic direction and storyline, the lead actors, Gary Oldman and Kevin Bacon do an amazing job. Despite that, the Criminal Law movie might make you feel like it is just a waste of time, money, and effort. 

Martin Campbell, the director, has had gained success with several other movies in his career. But it miserably fails to catch the audience’s attention with this disappointing piece of art. 

Criminal Law Movie Details (1988)

  • Initial Release: 15 September 1988
  • Director: Martin Cambell
  • Screenplay: Mark Kasdan
  • Cast: Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, Tess Harper, Karen Young, and more.
  • Genre: Crime, Thriller, Drama
  • Duration: 117 minutes


Criminal Law Characters

The Criminal Law movie stars Gary Oldman as an emerging top tier defense attorney. He plays the character of Ben Chase, residing in Boston, who somehow decides to take up the exoneration of Martin Theil.

The character of Martin Theil, as played by Kevin Bacon, has been portrayed as a spoilt rich brat who has been accused of a serious rape and murder crime. 

Although various other actors such as Sean McCann, Karen Young, Tess Harper, Ron Lea have also played significant roles in this movie, still the story entirely revolves around the characters played by Gary Oldman and Kevin Bacon. 

Plot Summary

Criminal Law plot summery

Ben Chase being an excel in his sector, is able to successfully defend Martin in the courtroom. He was accused of the charges for a brutal rape and murder of a young woman in Boston. However, as soon as Martin is set free, the city witnesses another similar murder. 

This murder, too, seemed to be like the one Martin was held against. Here too, the victim, a young woman, was severely beaten, gagged, and raped before being murdered. As Ben starts to fill up with suspicions of his client being guilty, Martin calls for a meeting at a deserted park. 

When Ben arrives at the park in the reign of a rainstorm, he is utterly shocked to find another corpse of a woman, instead of Martin. Right after this incident, Ben is convinced that Martin is, in fact, a serial rapist and murderer. 

As soon as Ben is aware of his conscience, he vows to make Bacon pay for his crimes. He tries to give out hints to the investigators but somehow is outsmarted by the cunning criminal. Soon again, Ben Chase is lured by Theil to defend him in the room of court for his horrific crimes. 

Somehow or the other, Ben makes up his mind to defend Martin again. But this time, to gather evidence against him, Ben thinks about turning detective to save his own life. As explained that by being his prosecutor, he will be able to study him better and know about his whereabouts. 

However, one person who was behind the reason for all these atrocities was Martin’s mother. She was basically an abortionist. And when Martin was eight years old, he found out that his mother wanted to abort him as well. He has hated his mother since then.

Ben Chase suspects that Martin is killing the women who visit his mother for the same reason. However, Theil eventually ends up murdering his own mother in order to save himself. 

As the movie progresses and takes turns, the cat and mouse chase between the murderer and the lawyer keeps on flowing. The movie ends in the justice courtroom with Martin taking Ben hostage with a gun to his head. 

Even after getting an opportunity, Ben is not able to kill Martin. It is because he realizes, after spending so much time with Martin, the fact that how similar they are. The closing scene of the Criminal Law movie entails Martin getting shot by a policewoman as Ben walks out of the courtroom in silence. 


Criminal Law review

To be very honest, the movie has a quite thrilling build-up. But it fails to keep the consistency. The fact that the false alarm element has been used repetitively in the Criminal Law movie makes it very irritating for the viewers. 

It does not feel like a thriller anymore, as if it is some kind of joke going on. The Criminal Law movie is nothing but simple, which might have been over in an hour had it been following the reality. Rather it kept on dragging and including unnecessary components. 

This movie is supposedly a pretentious thriller that conveys no sense about the American criminal justice system. The cinematography, background score, and action sequences are commendable.  

The British actor Gary Oldman delivers an excellent performance in his first major Hollywood film. There is absolutely no doubt that he is the only one to keep the film going. Oldman does his American accent exceptionally well with no room to let the audience catch him being from the UK. 

Mr. Kevin Bacon has also been a good supporting performer along with Gary. His evil smirk is a thing to die for. He excellently portrays a baby-faced serial killer with a spoilt and psychotic attitude. 

However, it is a shame how such talents and efforts were wasted behind a poorly made film. The Criminal Law movie could be made in a way better structure and with lesser gimmicks. 


Criminal Law ratings

Although the Criminal Law movie finds its way into the good list of some people, the top tier online movie databases rate it critically.

IMDB – 5.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes – 33%

Letterboxd – 2.6/5

Empire – 3/5


So now that you already know quite a lot about the Criminal Law movie, it’s completely your stand whether you want to go for the ride or not. Well, it is not such a boring movie, so maybe you can give it a try for a one time watch. 

Do not expect to get a heartwarming feeling like the one you get after watching a masterpiece. This is because this Criminal law movie stands nowhere near it. 

However, if you want to experience some young Gary Oldman and Kevin Bacon chemistry, you should definitely buy the ticket. 

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Lucia Patterson
Lucia Patterson

Lucia Patterson is the woman behind TheLegalGuides, a blog solely focused on legal guides, tips, and advice. Lucia is passionate about Legal and blog TheLegalGuides in her free time.


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