The Firm

(Sydney Pollack, USA, 1993)


The Firm is a dull and unremarkable film by any standards. It is astonishing to recall that, once upon a time, producer-director Sydney Pollack took a similar conspiracy story and made the unsettling, imaginative Three Days of the Condor (1975) with Robert Redford.

Tom Cruise plays Mitch, an upcoming legal genius who is tempted into an apparently respectable Memphis firm. Once Pollack has provided a few touristic snapshots of the local street life and a bare glimpse into the shaky marital relationship of Mitch and his wife Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn), it is time to plod through the moves and countermoves of an intrigue involving corruption, cover-up and murder. Gene Hackman plays one of the firm’s several sinister senior partners.

Pollack has not entirely forgotten how to structure a narrative in which a rookie hero tunnels his way through a treacherous world in search of honour and redemption. But the machinations of the plot are dissipated by a host of smaller parts (especially those of Holly Hunter and Gary Busey) which are realised with little dramatic conviction.

If anyone ever wants to accuse American cinema of being cynically commercial, here is the ammunition.

MORE Pollack: The Interpreter

© Adrian Martin March 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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