Sydney Pollack directs Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Gene Hackman in this legal thriller where a young graduate is recruited by a Memphis law office with an overly generous job offer covering up for a fatal conspiracy.
A classy Saturday night special that just about gets away with a wobbly construction due to an unwavering air of peril and some lavishly deployed Clinton-era wealth porn. A near endless procession of quirky cameos and enigmatic characters means subplots fade away unresolved and contrivances solve dilemmas in ways a sillier film might not survive. I seriously doubt the mob would go for Mitch’s pitch in the tense finale. It ain’t a good deal for them. Look out for the convenient cotton truck that keeps illegally parking in that alleyway by the offices. Gene Hackman’s wonderful Avery Tolar is an oblique human. It is quite seductive never to fully get a grip on such a prominent figure’s motivations or heart… and Hackman relishes adding random lines of definition to such an unpredictable persona. Cruise is in his element bouncing off a litany of grizzled acting greats, and Hackers is the three-pointer. The Firm would be the last time Tom rested on his boyish charm. After this he’d start dismantling the initial star persona with Interview With the Vampire, Jerry Maguire and Magnolia. We didn’t know it then but this was his last hurrah of callow youth and yuppie athleticism. Watching him run in suits is ever so satisfying. It feels like a tradition. The Firm weaves a closing net that gives him plenty of chances to dash and dodge without ever mutating into Arnie or Bruce. It is overlong. Indulgent. But indulges us with adult pulp, a workplace fantasy, a married adventure that allows for infidelity, abandoning of financial responsibility and mundanity. Dave Grusin’s jazzy solo piano score ferries us through the weaker joins.
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