Class Action (1991)
Conflict of Interest
As a lawyer who has made a name for himself by representing the little people you would think that Jedediah Tucker Ward (Gene Hackman) would be proud of his daughter Maggie (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) who followed in his footsteps to become a lawyer, except he thinks she sold out to corporate law. Maggie doesn't think that much of her father's choices either as he takes on cases which make him look good whilst failing to follow up on those he won and she has never forgiven him for cheating on her mum. But now they find themselves on the opposite sides of a courtroom as they become involved in a case involving a safety issue on a car which explodes under certain conditions.
If you do a search for the title "Class Action" you are as likely to stumble across mentions of a range of adult videos as you are this 90s movies featuring Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Those who stumble across this movie expecting adult entertainment might be disappointed but they shouldn't be as this is one solid piece of entertainment which looks like a typical courtroom drama but has more going on than that.
Now the thing about "Class Action" is that when you just give the synopsis a brief look it just sounds like a typical courtroom drama where a father and daughter try to out do each other and whilst there is some of that going on we have more. One of the things we have is the suggestion that a car manufacturer knew of the fault with their car but the money men worked out the cost of recalling cars and fixing it would be higher than any money they may have to pay out in damages. That alone gives "Class Action" an interesting angle and whilst not the focus of the move provides the interest in between the main storyline.
But the true focus of "Class Action" is the animosity between father and daughter where Jed is so smug that he can't see his flaws and belittles his daughter whilst she resents him because of his choices, unable to understand why he is how he is and why her mother didn't leave when he cheated on her. That resentment includes Jed not being around when she was a child. All of which fuels her desire to take him on in the courtroom and beat him, getting victory to prove herself and get back at him rather than winning the case for her clients.
Now that may make "Class Action" sound like quite a weak, even sentimental movie with the family angle and whilst director Michael Apted does a solid job of directing doesn't really do anything to make it a gripping courtroom drama. But what "Class Action" has is two great actors with Gene Hackman delivering the level of performance you come to expect from him but with Mastrantonio stepping up her game to bring so much depth to her character that even in scenes where she is just standing there she brings physical resentment to her character through just her look. It is the performances which make this movie and it includes those in supporting roles such as Jan Rubes and Laurence Fishburne.
What this all boils down to is that "Class Action" is a courtroom movie with a difference and one which works thanks to the perfect casting of Hackman and Mastrantonio who spark off of each other brilliantly with very strong characters.
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