Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Brian Helgeland
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Based on the Novel by D.W. Buffa
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Cinematography by Tom Stern
Film Editing by Joel Cox
Art Direction by Jack G. Taylor Jr.
Original Score by Clint Eastwood
Sean Penn - Attorney Joseph Antonelli
Chris Cooper - Elliot Winston
Dan Futterman - Harper Bryce
Robert Downey Jr - Howard Flynn
Roy Scheider - Asa Bartram
Josh Charles - Detective Stewart
John Terry - Dr. Freidman
Jeremy Renner - John Smith
Sam Rockwell - Chester MacArthur
Amy Ryan - Cassabdra Loescher
Charles S. Dutton - Judge Quincy Griswald
Tagline: "The World of Law is a Dangerous Place"
Synopsis: I have spent years defending some of the worst people who ever lived, but the most evil man I knew was never once accused of a crime. Nothing would've made me go to his funeral had he died in his sleep or killed in a car accident, but Calvin Jeffries was murdered.
Those are the words of Attorney Joseph Antonelli the day of Judge Calvin Jeffries funeral. Jeffries was a man who would stab anyone in the back, according to Antonelli. Maybe it was the day Jeffries embarrassed Antonelli in front of a court by arresting him for contempt that made Antonelli hate the man so much. All things aside, it didn't stop him from being surrounded by people who saw the man as a hero. No one had more of a brilliant legal mind, Asa Bartram would say, but Antonelli saw the the true Calvin Jeffries. He knew he was a man who cared less about the law and more about power. But Jeffries days ended when he was found stabbed to death in a courthouse parking lot. The crime shocks the community, but justice is swift as a man named Jacob Whittaker is arrested and unexpectedly commits suicide.
The case is closed, Quincy Griswald is appointed new head judge, and Jeffries murder was on it's way of becoming yesterday's news. That is until, Griswald is also murdered the same exact way Jeffries was killed. Police are calling it a copycat crime. This time the suspect is a homeless young man named John Smith. Antonelli is not sure a man like Smith, who has mental dissabilities and doesn't even know is own name, would kill a man he never laid eyes on, and he had journalist Harper Bryce, Detective Stewart, and another attorney named Howard Flynn all on his side. Together, the four men believed that there was a link to both murders and they would embark on a dangerous case that leaves lives being threatened. Nevertheless, Antonelli agrees to defend Smith, but what he discovers challenges everything he knows. He will soon find himself suspecting a washed-up trial judge turned mental patient by the name of Elliot Winston. Beneath all that hard evidence, lies a twisted road of obssession and it all leads to the real killer and a shocking ending you wouldn't see.
What the Press would say:
"A Gripping Courtroom drama that leaves you wanting more. One of the best films of the year" - Peter Travers (The Rolling Stone)
"Great, and I mean Great. You'll love this film" - Richard Roeper (Ebert and Roeper)
Once again, Clint Eastwood masters the screen with "The Judgment". Only he could take a great book and turn into a masterpiece. He fills us with intense and provocative legal issues that will stay with us all the way till the oscars.
Sean Penn gives a tour de force performance has Attorney Joseph Antonelli. Antonelli tries to move on with his life after the death of Calvin Jeffries, but he finds himself haunted by the man everyday. Once a second judge is murdered the same exact way Jeffries was killed, Antonelli begins to question the whole thing. Especially when John Smith is accused of Griswald's murder. He now is determined to defend the man everyone wants to be guilty, and what he finds out is even more twisted than anything in the case, and it envolves a man named Elliot Winston.
Winston was a man of law like Jeffries and Griswald. But he soon went mad and put in a mental hospital. Almost every two weeks Antonelli would visit the head of the hospital, Dr. Friedman, to check on Winston's condition. It turns out that Jacob Whittaker, the man who killed Jeffries, was a patient in the same mental hospital. Winston his brought to court and confesses that he ordered Whittaker to kill Jeffries. He also confesses that he ordered another patient named Chester MacArthur to kill Quincy Griswald. Both those men were due to leave the hospital, and according to Winston, all the men wanted in return was the fact that evil really existed in the world.
The Judgement is gripping and suspenseful in every way. The powerful performances will never be forgotten. Robert Downey Jr is pitch perfect as attorney Howard Flynn, who helps Joseph all the way thru the trial. Dan Futterman is excellent as the journalist on top of the murders. Amy Ryan gives a mean performance as the prosecutor, Cassandra Loescher, and Roy Scheider's prescence as Asa Bartram is remarkable. Bartram was a friend of Calvin Jeffries and wished to follow in his footsteps. Bartram will be involved in a shocking twist in the end. Chris Cooper is the true best supporting actor playing Elliot Winston. We see his madness enfold in his final act. After confessing his actions in the courtroom, Winston takes down a guard and gets a hold of gun. Pointing it at Joseph Antonelli, he decides to take his own life instead. The case is officially closed.
Each scene delivers more than what we expected, it never dissatifies, and the cinematography is beautifully delivered. The cast is great, but the treasures are Sean Penn and Chris Cooper. And in the end, when all seems to be said and done, we see Asa Bartram stabbed to death, killed the same way Jeffries and Griswald were murdered. Antonelli hears the news the next day and the look on his eyes simply say "godammit".
For Your Consideration
Best Director - Clint Eastwood
Best Actor - Sean Penn
Best Supporting Actor - Chris Cooper
Best Supporting Actor - Robert Downey Jr
Best Supporting Actor - Roy Scheider
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Film Editing
Best Art Direction
Best Casting Choice - Sean Penn
Best Original Score