Father on the Row
It's been six years since Jack (Richard Thomas) and Connie's (Amy Madigan) daughter was cruelly taken from them by the hands of murderer John Burke (Scott Bakula) and they are on the verge of getting closure as Burke is just weeks away from being executed by lethal injection. But when Jack decides he needs to speak to Burke to understand why he killed their daughter something happens which threatens his marriage to Connie. Jack realises that Burke doesn't want clemency as he knows he has done wrong but he is also a father and is concerned for his 12 year old daughter as to what will happen to her after he is gone as her guardian, his mother, is too ill to look after her.
If your only child was killed could you forgive the person who killed them? I believe that it is only something you can answer if you are in that situation. Yes from afar you could say no way could I ever forgive the man who stole my happiness but things are different when you are in a situation. The trouble is that "In the Name of the People" is a movie which partly revolves around forgiveness as Jack and Connie find them selves facing the fact that if John Burke dies he will leave a 12 year old girl with no family and through no fault of her own. The conflict which Jack fills over what the right thing to do is hard to accept from afar and that makes "In the Name of the People" one of those movies which can feel manufactured unless you can accept that attitudes can change when you are dealing with a situation.
But what "In the Name of the People" also does is bring into question the motivation for the death penalty as in is it justice or is it revenge. And that comes into play when Jack and Connie become conflicted as to what is the right thing to do when the realisation that a young girl will be an orphan if her father is executed. Don't worry as "In the Name of the People" isn't some heavy movie about the right and wrongs of the death penalty but brings the question into focus and how for some it is less about getting justice but being an eye for an eye.
Now "In the Name of the People" is a moving movie with numerous emotional scenes from Connie needing Burke to die to get closure to his daughter pleading to not to take her father from her and there is a lot more. But it is not an overly sentimental movie rather than one which manages to be hard hitting and emotional without over playing it. Part of the reason why it succeeds in doing this is through the clever casting as Amy Madigan, Richard Thomas and Scott Bakula all bring the human side of their characters to the fore; we get to understand their rage, their needs and their feelings.
Don't get me wrong as "In the Name of the People" is by no means perfect, it has an array of issues you expect from TV movies as well as some additional ones such as over use of soft focus when doing flashback scenes to happier times. But its biggest issue comes from not always having the time to be subtle such as when Connie is doing a TV interview and says that the rage drives her on, something which sounds forced and is visually forced.
What this all boils down to is that "In the Name of the People" is a very good movie especially for one which is a TV movie. Yes it has its problems but it has an interesting story and brings to the fore various things when it comes to the death penalty.