The Chamber

The Chamber is not only the third major death-penalty-themed movie to appear within the last year, but also the second film within a month to squander a superior performance by Gene Hackman. Here Hackman plays an easily detested bigot on death row for a crime in which he participated nearly 30 years ago. His performance fleshes out the most three-dimensional character to emerge from the many cartoonish Grisham adaptations. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't focus entirely on him and his slowly emerging conscience, instead wasting time on the usual Grisham conventions: the bland, earnest, young white lawyer forced to confront The South's gruesome past, his equally bland female sidekick, the dark secret buried at the bottom of city hall. Even more sad is an embarrassingly shrill performance by Faye Dunaway, and an ending which insults the ability of the audience to watch a movie without having a conclusion spoon-fed to them.

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