The Star Chamber (1983)

Genres - Drama, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Paranoid Thriller  |   Release Date - Aug 5, 1983 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Costello

This confused, mediocre thriller about vigilantism in high places stars Michael Douglas as a young judge entering an arcane, new world. The script, ostensibly an attempt to deal with the issue of the Miranda laws and the nature of the rights of criminals, quickly degenerates into a ludicrous thriller in which Douglas is persuaded to join a "Star Chamber" of nine judges who mete out vigilante justice to criminals who they believe have evaded punishment through legal technicalities. It's impossible to piece together any controlling vision, since the film jerks awkwardly from seeming approval of the judges to a condemnation of their methods without the slightest exploration of the complex issues. Douglas is stiff and monotonous in a poorly written role, but the talented cast, which includes Hal Holbrook as a senior judge and Yaphet Kotto as a police detective, provides whatever substance the film may have. The film fared badly in theaters, which nonetheless did not slow the burgeoning '80s careers of Douglas or writer/director Peter Hyams.