Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This came out in 1996, and I saw part of it for some reason. Watching the complete film on Hulu gave me a revised perspective. It’s The Juror, starring Demi Moore as Annie Laird, the juror in question. It’s a crime thriller, along the lines of Experiment in  Terror from 1962. It’s from Columbia Pictures, and details are from Wikipedia.

It’s the kind of situation any citizen can come up against. You’re a juror in a trial against a violent and powerful criminal, and there is the temptation on the part of the accused to sway your opinion using means available to such people. That’s what this film is about.

In the opening scene a hired killer murders a gang member, and then he kills the man’s grandson before departing. The police have  wiretap evidence. There is a trial. Jurors are being selected. Annie Laird, a single mother, agrees to serve. She becomes an immediate target.

The hired killer is not on trial. His identity is not known to police. The person who hired him is on trial. That leaves the hired killer, Mark Cordell “The Teacher” (Alec Baldwin), available to pick up some extra cash by fixing the jury vote. He zeros in on Annie. Posing as an art dealer, he purchases a number of her sculptures and introduces himself. After a little romantic foreplay he reveals his true purpose. She will be required to vote “not guilty,” or she and her son will be killed. The Teacher has already planted listening devices in Annie’s house so he can keep close tabs.

The Teacher works from a rented storage facility, and when the owner gets too nosy he figures it’s necessary to eliminate him. This he does, and he forces Annie to watch.

Now the arguments at trial are over, and jury deliberations begin. Ten jurors vote to convict. Annie and another vote to acquit. Now The Teacher changes the rules. Annie must turn the jury completely around, else the threatened consequences will accrue.

And she does. Hour after hour Annie makes the argument for acquittal, eventually wearing down all opposition. The gang boss is acquitted.

Naturally the prosecutors are interested in Annie. They haul her in. She tells them they cannot help her. She has her safety and that of her son, Oliver (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), at stake. The prosecutors have no such commitment.

But this catches the attention of The Teacher. Only, he has developed an attachment toward Annie. She is an attractive woman (hey! Demi Moore), and she is strong and capable. So he goes after her friend Juliet (Anne Heche), a doctor. He seduces Juliet and murders her in bed after a rousing sexual romp.

That is the straw that breaks Annie’s resistance. She takes her son to a remote village in  Guatemala and returns to work with the cops. She insists on wearing a wire in a meeting with The Teacher. But, unknown to the cops, Annie tucks another device deeper into her clothing. Meeting The Teacher, Annie discloses the first wire and removes it. Then, alone with The Teacher, she gets him to reveal his plans to overthrow his boss. Then she plays the recording to the boss.

The boss takes action, summoning The Teacher to a meeting that is held on some mud flats in New Jersey, upstream of the George Washington Bridge. An excellent place to dispose of a body.

But The Teacher has anticipated the plot, and he turns the tables on the gangsters, killing them all. Then he turns his vengeance on Annie.

Then he makes a mistake. He underestimates Annie. He tells her of his intent to go to Guatemala and kill Oliver. Then he catches a flight to Guatemala City. Annie is  too late. She can’t get on the flight. The Teacher is on his way to kill Oliver.

But there is a second flight. Annie is still behind The Teacher’s schedule. At the airport in Guatemala City The Teacher hitches a ride, then kills the driver and drives his car to the remote village. It’s a long drive. Too long.

Annie arrives in Guatemala City and cannot hire a car. She hires a plane, instead. Arriving in T’ui Cuch ahead of The Teacher. The Teacher spots Oliver in a crowd celebrating a local festival. Oliver lures The Teacher to an ancient structure, where local  gunmen are waiting. Annie fires the final, killing rounds into The Teacher. There is a certain amount of glee.

There is a certain moral dilemma here. Yeah, I can save my own skin and my son by playing along, and I am agreeable, in exchange, to accommodate the deaths of the rental dealer, the best friend, and the driver in Guatemala. Truth be known, the mobsters were never destined to be safe as long as Annie was still alive. And why not kill Oliver along the way?

There are some disconnects in the plot.

The gangsters decide to kill the hapless chump in the car by rolling over a cliff. In front of God and everybody? There could have been up to 50 witnesses to this crime.

Annie knows The Teacher is heading to Guatemala to kill Oliver. She can’t pick up a phone and tell the police? An official  call from the NYPD would have Guatemala police waiting to take The Teacher into custody when he stepped off the plane.

The Teacher carries two loaded handguns aboard an international flight? And passes through Guatemalan customs with them? No.

No, the movie needs the dramatic shootout in the closing scene to show good triumphing over evil in the biggest way possible. Even if much credibility needs to be stretched in between.

I first recall Demi Moore from Wisdom, the tale of a social dropout who resorts to crime as a protest against his life’s consequences. She is the hapless girlfriend of John Wisdom (Emilio Estevez), ending the film getting shot and killed as police close in. I have a copy of Striptease, about a single mother who earns a living taking off her clothing. My only regret about that movie is it does not involve more of her fabulous body, once featured au naturale on the cover of Vanity Fair. Opposite Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, she is foil to Cruise’s dominating character. Her Wonder Woman persona shines in G.I. Jane, where she gets to show off both her tough and her sexy sides. With an emphasis on tough. I will do reviews of these films when they become available.

Alec Baldwin created the film embodiment of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October. More recently he has moved to television comedy, lampooning President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.

I love Anne Heche in Six Days and Seven Nights, a comedic thriller played opposite Harrison Ford. It’s a romping adventure with the unforgettable scene that features Ford feeling around in  her crotch area for an wayward fish. A review is due.

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One thought on “Bad Movie Wednesday

  1. Pingback: Bad Movie Wednesday | Skeptical Analysis

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