Art imitates art – and not very well – in Peter Yates’ gimmicky suspense drama sabotaged by a flimsy script full of cliches. Dennis Quaid valiantly struggles to breathe life into the matter, but comes up short when a surprise ending packs little punch because the audience knows in the first five minutes the prime suspect can’t be guilty.
Cher stars as Kathleen Riley, a hard-working Washington, DC public defender unlike any ever seen before. A day before taking a long-needed vacation, she’s given a defendant charged with the brutal murder of a Justice Dept staffer. Carl Wayne Anderson (Liam Neeson) has everything working against him: a Vietnam vet, he was rendered deaf and speechless by the psychological toll of the war, and he’s homeless – he has to be innocent.
Just when it seems the entire film is going to be suffocated by liberal piety, Quaid shows up as Dairy State lobbyist Eddie Sanger, so persuasive that he’s ‘dangerous’. Sanger is called in for jury duty and sparks begin to fly when he faces off against Cher in the courtroom. Scenes with the two of them are the best in the film, but there aren’t enough.