Murder in the First (1995)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Prison Film, Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 122 min.  |   Countries - France , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Marc Rocco's courtroom drama/prison movie, intended as a tribute to a crusading lawyer, is too overwrought to be truly compelling. The fact-based script, which concerns the brutal treatment of an inmate of Alcatraz during the 1930s, blows a gale wind of hype into what was undoubtedly a sad set of circumstances, beatifying a man who was simply a tragic victim. And while Christian Slater, as the heroic attorney, has evident talent, he isn't yet able to carry off a role with this kind of emotional intensity and scope. Rocco does little to help, allowing him to overact outrageously in a number of scenes. Kevin Bacon is well cast as the prisoner, but also goes over the top far too often here. With the exception of the seemingly self-directed William H. Macy, the rest of this usually fine cast seems to have been encouraged to chew scenery to the maximum.