‘A Civil Action’ is a legal thriller, well-directed and presented in such a way that manages to create certain mood of extreme anxiety and fear, which all the more increases the tension level to filter throughout the movie.
If you think that watching a movie in which lawyers are seen reading doesn’t sound exciting, you will have to give a second thought. The director, Steven Zaillian of ‘A civil action’, has managed to maintain the suspense and thrill throughout the movie. There have been lots of movies based on the water as subject but here water looks so ominous as it never had felt before.
Jan Schlichtmann (John Travolta) is a lawyer who is greedy and runs a law firm that has only one aim and that is of getting profitable cases. Right in the first scene, Schlichtmann talks about which would be better for his business, whether a dead black or a dead white or a dead cripple or a dead kid, and while stating all this his voice is subtle cold.
The film is all about the case of 12 dead kids who died due to contaminated drinking water, which is because of two main food companies. Schlichtmann accepts this case in order to get a good payoff.
Because he believes and says once in the movie, “A lawyer who feels compassion for his client is worse than a doctor who recoils at the sight of blood”. The lawyer from the food company’s side starts with idiosyncratic and strange way so that Schlichtmann takes him too lightly. And when the trial proceeds, viewers start feeling the excitement and anxiety of what next was going to happen. Schlichtmann is seen gathering information for his case and spending lot of time and resources for the sake of them. So much so that his company runs of fund and they use credit cards, try to et loans and even buy lottery tickets to fight this case. Anne Anderson (Kathleen Quinlan), the spokesperson of the families whose kids died, is seen almost pleading and is quite sympathetic with the families.
‘A Civil Action’ is a story of the case but in the end the question does not arise about that is the winner. Even in the final sequence in the courtroom there is no slowdown as such and finally one feels that it was a story of Schlichtmann who turns to be a considerate human being slowly along with fighting for the case. During this journey he comes in ontact with Jerome Facher who is a strong attorney but always bounces a ball on walls and carries a suitcase that is trodden up. This act of Facher proves to be of assuredness eventually and his appearance itself makes other lawyers nervous.
The ending gives the impression of the real creativity of the filmmakers and they don’t leave the viewers behind with a cheap one. So instead of giving any stereotyped ending, the director leaves it in mid-air and the thrill remains till the end. The direction of the movie is so intense that every time water is poured in the glass, a ringe of fear develops in viewer’s mind.
In one scene Schlichtmann is standing on a bridge and water is flowing underneath, and the sound effects created here makes the viewer feel as if there is a dead secret in the water itself. Travolta has done an extremely good job and is seen quite convincing and of course very powerful. Travolta portrays the role of a man, who understands in the end that money is not the whole thing, in earnest and effective manner. This film is worth seeing for those who love thriller, which includes palpable suspense and tension throughout.