EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Can Michael Clayton do for the Legal Thriller what Jason Bourne did for the Spy Movie?

In directing The Bourne Identity , director Doug Liman completely revitalized the spy movie, and some would say that Paul Greengrass only upped the ante with the sequels he helmed, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum.  Meanwhile, the legal thriller has languished in comparison.  The last legal movie I can remember that I really enjoyed was Roger Michell's Changing Lanes back in 2002.

Apparently, though, there's hope on the horizon.  Coming out in limited release this Friday and expanding nationwide next week is Tony Gilroy's directorial debut, Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney as a fixer called in to clean up the mess at a large New York law firm after one of its partners has a breakdown while taking a deposition.  While trying to clean things up, Clooney discovers some unsavory evidence, which leads him to question his ethical responsibilities.   

There are a few reasons to believe this might be a good movie.  First, while Liman and Greengrass did admirable jobs directing the Bourne movies, it was Gilroy who did an excellent job of adapting their screenplays from Robert Ludlum's potboiler novels.  Second, the reviews so far have been terrific.  At review-compiling site Rotten Tomatoes, Michael Clayton currently has a fresh rating of 83%.  The third reason is this interview with Gilroy.  As Gilroy notes in the interview, Michael Clayton is closely modeled after the case Anderson v. General Motors, which hinged on evidence not produced for discovery.  If Gilroy did, in fact, hew pretty closely to the facts of that case (he also wrote the screenplay), the result might be a legal thriller that is not only enjoyable, but which is also legally accurate.  Heck, some are even comparing it to Changing Lanes.



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