A Case of Deadly Force (1986) starring Richard Crenna, John Shea, Lorraine Toussaint, Francis X. McCarthy, Tom Isbell, Dylan Baker, Tate Donovan directed by Michael Miller Movie Review

A Case of Deadly Force (1986)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Richard Crenna in A Case of Deadly Force (1986)

The Family Firm

Whilst on a stakeout of a car suspected used in a robbery two Boston cops gun down a black man who gets into the car. The police men claim they were forced to shoot in self defence as the man had a gun and the police investigation clears them of any wrong doing. But the man's widow knows her husband would never have carried a gun and persuades lawyer Lawrence O'Donnell Sr. (Richard Crenna - Body Heat) to take the case of proving her husband innocent. With his firm consisting of his son's Lawrence attempts to do what has never been done before and win against the police in court.

"A Case of Deadly Force" is an entertaining little movie but for the wrong reasons as the entertainment should be in the dramatization of a true story especially one which resulted in a landmark legal decision. But this side of the movie is a let down; there is no sense of realism, no real sense of drama or danger even though it hints at the police covering things up and the attempts to scare O'Donnell off by targeting his boys. It makes it an ordinary walk through of a true story which could quite easily have just been a work of fiction.

John Shea in A Case of Deadly Force (1986)

But as I said "A Case of Deadly Force" is entertaining and that comes from the almost novelty aspect of O'Donnell and his law firm consisting of his sons. There is also Richard Crenna's performance as O'Donnell and he has this sort of cool charisma going on which makes it him easy to watch. In a way "A Case of Deadly Force" could easily have been a set up for a series of TV movies about a family law firm taking on various cases, sort of like the more recent "McBride" movies.

Aside from that there isn't a lot else to say and to be honest considering "A Case of Deadly Force" is based on a true story and a landmark legal decision it is disappointing. I suppose there is the fact there are several well known faces alongside Richard Crenna which help such as Dylan Baker and Tate Donovan but even then their characters are not great.

What this all boils down to is that "A Case of Deadly Force" is an entertaining movie but for different reasons than it should be. If you watch in the hope of an interesting dramatization of a true story you will be disappointed but as a legal drama it is okay.