review for Criminal Law on AllMovie

Criminal Law (1989)
by Linda Rasmussen review

Criminal Law is a legal thriller wherein criminal defense attorney Ben Chase (Gary Oldman) decides to prove that his client Martin Thiel (Kevin Bacon) is in fact a serial killer, despite the acquittal that Ben won for him. When new murders occur, Ben takes matters into his own hands, beginning a psychological battle of wills with Martin. Gary Oldman gives an excellent performance as the criminal defense attorney with a conscience, and Kevin Bacon is intriguing and ambiguous as the killer. The action sequences -- particularly when Ben finds a body in the rain in a deserted park -- are terrific as is the fast-paced direction by Martin Campbell. However, the film cannot overcome its ludicrous premise or its laughable, totally unbelievable courtroom sequences. Criminal Law, if not taken very seriously and with more than a grain of salt, can be entertaining, but it fails miserably when compared to accurate, exciting legal thrillers such as Primal Fear.