Winning performances by Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and potent direction by Michael Apted pump life into the sturdy courtroom drama formula once again.
Hackman plays Jed Ward, a veteran civil rights lawyer still dedicated to defending the underdog, though his record, both professional and personal, is not without blotches.
Mastrantonio is his daughter Maggie, a ruthlessly effective corporate advocate and ladder-climber, whose disdain for her father has more to do with his amorous indiscretions than his politics.
They wind up on opposite sides of a class action suit filed against an auto company by the maimed survivors of crashes in which the cars exploded on impact.
For the first half, much of the script is by the numbers, as characters deliver plodding dialog to lay out the situation, but things pick up. Viewer sympathy accumulates quickly for Hackman, the charismatic, if flawed, man of the people, but Mastrantonio carves out her own turf and hangs on to it, truly taking on the senior actor.