Runaway Jury

Rated 3.0 To film John Grisham’s best seller about a high-profile lawsuit, Hollywood changed the locale from Biloxi, Miss., to New Orleans (it’s prettier) and the defendant from Big Tobacco to the gun industry (Smith & Wesson don’t pay for product placement, as Marlboro apparently did here). Having junked the plot (Grisham’s long suit), the film compensates a bit with powerhouse casting for the paper-thin characters: John Cusack, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Bruce Davison. The new plot takes some dumb turns, with people bellowing on city corners about their own jury tampering or scenes between characters who would never meet (and don’t in the book)—but you can’t put stars like these in the same movie and not give them scenes together, right? Director Gary Fleder and four writers do nondescript work.