The Firm movie full length review - Caught In A Trap
Anyone who has experienced poverty or hardship in their early life never forgets the experience and always retains a certain element of insecurity about wealth, regardless of how much financial success they later achieve.
In "The Firm", it's this phenomenon that essentially drives a brilliant young law student to ignore numerous offers of career-enhancing opportunities from a number of prestigious big city law firms to, instead, join a small Memphis partnership who offer him a fantastic remuneration package. Unfortunately, what follows, perfectly illustrates the wisdom of the old adage that "if something seems too good to be true, it probably is".
Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) is the Harvard Law School graduate from a poor background whose exceptional academic achievements lead to him being head-hunted by "Berdini, Lambert & Locke". The firm offer him a huge salary, a low-interest mortgage, a Mercedes and the repayment of his student loans and in return, Mitch readily agrees to join them. After relocating to Memphis with his wife Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn), he quickly settles into the practice and regularly works long hours. Initially, he's comfortable with the firm's family ethos and doesn't share Abby's unease about some of the advice she receives such as "the firm encourages children" etc. A little later, however, when he realises that a high percentage of the firm's work is related to the activities of the Mob and a couple of the firm's lawyers suddenly die in mysterious circumstances, he gets the strong feeling that something sinister is going on.
Mitch's suspicions are confirmed when he gets approached by the director of the FBI and Agent Wayne Tarrance (Ed Harris) who inform him about the firm's criminal and money-laundering activities. They want Mitch to supply them with information and documents to be used as evidence to bring his employers to justice and add that if he doesn't co-operate, things will be made very difficult for his brother who's in jail facing a manslaughter charge. They also emphasise that Mitch effectively doesn't have any choice in the matter because no partner has ever left the firm alive and if he simply decides to stay with the firm, he could face 20 years in prison when they go down, as they inevitably will.
Mitch knows it would be impossible to pass on the documents that the FBI want without breaching the confidence of his legitimate clients and taking that action would inevitably lead to the loss of his licence to practice law. He therefore realises that in order to meet their demands without losing his career, making his brother's parlous situation worse or winding up dead at the hands of his ruthless employers (or the Mob), he needs to devise an imaginative plan to get out of the trap he's in. When he then discovers that the firm have routinely been over-billing clients for some considerable time, he starts to see an opportunity to formulate just such a plan but, of course, its success is by no means guaranteed.
Based on John Grisham's bestselling novel, this glossy thriller was understandably a huge box-office success. It's intriguing, tense and highly entertaining and features a whole collection of great performances from its star-studded cast. Surprisingly though, it's Gary Busey, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris and Holly Hunter that really bring the screen to life in their relatively small parts while Tom Cruise and Jeanne Tripplehorn also do well in their starring roles.