A Testing Time
After his wife and two sons died in a car accident Mac (Matthew Modine) just couldn't continue, he quit his job as attorney and unable to escape the memories is ready to put a bullet through his head to end his misery. It is then that Judge Danielson (Rance Howard) summons him to his offices as a young man, Pete Thomason (Randy Wayne), has been accused with murdering his girlfriend who happened to be the daughter of a prominent member of the local community. Despite having quit Mac reforms his old team; Mindy (Nikki Deloach) and Ray (Robert Forster) whilst also calling upon the services of Dr. Anna Wilkes (Clare Carey). With prosecutor Joe Whetstone (Bob Gunton) pushing for the death sentence there is a lot riding on this case, the question is can Mac get beyond his own emotions to do the job he is able of doing.
Recently I have been getting stuck in to some "Perry Mason" movies from the early 90s and let me tell you now that whilst those "Perry Mason" movies all ran to a tight formula they were a whole lot more entertaining that "The Trial" Yet there is something about "The Trial" that draws you in despite at times I swear that paint dries quicker. That is a bit unfair because "The Trial" is all about the detail; from Mac dealings with his emotions especially when a widowed mum of one starts assisting in the case to the way he and his team work through the case piece by piece.
That is strangely part of the appeal of "The Trial" because there is attention to detail everywhere for Bob Gunton's Joe Whetstone saying "DefendAnt" to Mac's caring side emerging from behind the layers of pain he is suffering behind. Plus of course with the case involving the death penalty Mac finds himself challenged to examine his own thinking. That leads me to the fact this movie doesn't shy from its faith side of the story with bible verses quoted but it never gets preachy.
I suppose in a way "The Trial" is a real mixed bag of the good and not so good with the acting being solid but unremarkable whilst the courtroom drama being okay yet also only typical. But still whilst it only ever manages to go through the motions of other courtroom movies there is still something, an atmosphere, something I can't put my finger on which keeps you watching. Maybe it is the discovery of what happened and how it happened.
What this all boils down to is that "The Trial" is on one hand a flawed movie, slow and at times a little too familiar. Yet there is still something about it which draws you in to the case which Mac finds himself dealing with.