Chamber, The

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2

The latest adaptation of a John Grisham novel, this drama has similarities to the box office hit A Time To Kill, but with a slightly different flavor. White supremacist Sam Cayhall (Gene Hackman), convicted of murder for a 1967 bombing that killed two children, is scheduled to die in a Mississippi gas chamber in 28 days. Adam Hall (Chris O'Donnell), an inexperienced law associate, shows up at the prison offering to explore all legal avenues in order to halt the execution. Sam soon realizes that this isn't just an eager young lawyer; Adam is his estranged grandson. As he begins exploring every possibility to save his grandfather's life, Adam uncovers secrets about his family's past and discovers that Sam's role in the murders may not be in line with his death sentence. The thriller aspects of the plot aren't too compelling, especially since crucial evidence is basically handed to Adam on a silver platter. THE CHAMBER is more of a character study than a legal thriller, as we learn about a family's history and the legacy of hatred that has been passed on from generation to generation. The dramatization of one fictional case may also spark discussion about the merits of the death penalty. Strong performances will keep the audience interested, but this movie isn't as exciting as other Grisham adaptations.

The film's most shocking moment is the incident that led to Sam's conviction. Two young boys accompany their father, a Jewish lawyer, to his office building and are looking out separate second floor windows when a bomb goes off and they are consumed in a fiery explosion. In a flashback, Adam recalls the day when his father committed suicide by putting a gun to his head. The shot is not shown, but there is a very brief glimpse of the corpse and some of the blood. In an alcoholic haze, Adam's aunt (Faye Dunaway) describes and we see an incident from her youth where a black man was shot and killed. Sam uses racial slurs in his discussions with his grandson. Violent scenes, along with many crude and obscene words and several regular profanities, account for the film's R rating and are offensive.

Preview Reviewer: Mark Perry
Universal Pictures, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (39) times Mild 20, Moderate 19

Obscene Language: Many (10) times (s-word 5, other 5)

Profanity: Several (8) times Regular 7 (G-d 3, J 2, JC 1, For God sakes 1), Exclamatory 1

Violence: Several times Moderate and Severe (building explosion with killings, man shot, kicking and beating, gun threat, gunfire, bloody suicide victim, man executed with lethal gas)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Smoking, alcohol drinking, alcoholic character

Other: Racial slurs (n-word 7 times, other 2), woman says she and husband have extra-marital relationships

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.