The Pelican Brief (based on a book by the same name authored by John Grisham) starts off with the assassinations of two US Supreme Court justices, and how law student Darby Shaw (played wonderfully well by Julia Roberts) manages to find a connection between the assassinations and a fairly large scale cover-up going up all the way to the President of the United States.
Pretty soon, Darby realizes that she has opened up the veritable Pandora’s Box when all the people related to the case itself and more so, people who she contacts with the legal brief start dying one by one. Her last and final hope is reporter Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington at his dependable best) who has already been contacted by an anonymous source ‘Garcia’ claiming to have information about the assassinations.
What follows in the rest of the movie is whether Darby and Gray manage to bring the perpetrators of the assassinations to justice and whether the larger conspiracy is brought to light of day or not. Suffice to say that for a legal thriller, this movie has quite a bit of the ‘edge of the seat’ type elements to it.
I am ashamed to say this, but the truth is that I have not read even a single John Grisham book and I am assuming that this made me enjoy this movie just a bit more than I would have if I had actually read the book. And even though I haven’t read the book, I am fairly confident that the makers of this movie have done more than quite a competent job of translating the book onto the silver screen itself.
Given that this movie was made all of 23 yrs ago in 1992, it was thoroughly refreshing to see a movie where the characters actually rely upon landline telephones and regular books and encyclopedias to get work done rather than rely on Wikipedia and other random online sources for information. What’s better is to see that Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington have remained at the top of their game all these years, and if not anything, have gotten even better at subtly portraying fairly nuanced and layered characters on screen. Julia Roberts especially outdoes herself in a couple of scenes and I found it hard to believe that she was this good all that time ago as well.
In a nutshell, this movie is a must watch for all John Grisham fans and fans of the legal thriller genre in general.