Final Justice (1998)
Dirty, Rotten Lawyer
Not long after dropping her brother off at the business he half owns, Gwen Saticoy (Annette O'Toole - The Christmas Box) is paid a visit by her detective boyfriend Mark Sherman (Brian Wimmer - Thicker Than Water) as her brother has been killed. He discovered his business partner trying to torch the shop in an insurance job but ended up being killed. It should be an open and shut case except renowned defence lawyer Merle Hammond (Michael McKean - That Darn Cat) takes the case and turns it on its head, focusing on her brother having not only been a homosexual but also HIV. When Merle manages to get Damon off it leads to a series of changes in Gwen's life when the Catholic school she teaches at insist she takes a years sabbatical. Angered by the injustice she decides to take matters into her own hands and kidnaps Merle, taking him to a remote cabin for a taste of his own medicine.
"Final Justice" starts off quite brilliantly as after the murder and Gwen's struggle to deal with her brother's murder we have the court case and the sleaze ball Merle Hammond. In many ways the usually amusing Michael McKean is cast against type as the sleazy lawyer who shifts the case from murder to one of morality but he is convincing during those court room scenes and does a good job of making us dislike him. And during this court case as we watch Merle twist things around and takes advantage of the prosecutions naivety we do get a sense of disgust and injustice when he gets Damon off let alone all the press exposure he gets for another win.
But after that "Final Justice" goes down hill incredibly quickly as unfortunately Annette O'Toole as Gwen Saticoy over acts the anger she has for Merle and fails to convince as a woman who having decided to take matters into her own hands that she is losing it. That is not the only thing wrong as when she decides to inflict blaring rap music on Merle as he is handcuffed to a bath tub it's far too comical after the dramatic set up. And as for what follows that, which I won't go into, well it is just takes thing far too far and becomes too far fetched and unbelievable.
It is such as shame that "Final Justice" couldn't keep the same dramatic intensity of the first 20 minutes as that is when the movie is at its best. It is during those first 20 minutes that both Michael McKean and Annette O'Toole deliver the right performances with promise of this being a great movie about a sleazy lawyer getting justice for all those he helped escape the law. But as I said it goes down hill and goes too far fetched and unbelievable suffering from some poor writing.
What this all boils down to is that "Final Justice" is not completely terrible but it is a movie which promises much and then delivers very little.
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