A Time to Kill

July 24th, 1996


A Time to Kill

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Jack Brigance questions Carl Lee Hailey, who is accused of murdering two racist thugs.Samuel L. Jackson at event of A Time to KillSandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey in A Time to KillJanine Turner at event of A Time to KillMatthew McConaughey at event of A Time to KillDonald Sutherland at event of A Time to Kill

A young lawyer defends a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the KKK.

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 7.1/10 (48,734 voted)

Critic's Score: 54/100

Director: Joel Schumacher

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson

In Canton, Mississippi, 10-year-old Tonya Hailey is viciously brutalized by two white racist rednecks -- James Louis "Pete" Willard and Billy Ray Cobb. Almost immediately after Tonya is found and rushed to a hospital, Pete and Billy Ray are found at a roadside bar, where they had been bragging about what they did to Tonya. Tonya's understandably distraught and enraged father, Carl Lee Hailey, remembers a case from a year ago, when four white men raped an African-American girl in a nearby town, and got acquitted. Carl is determined to not let that happen in this case. While deputy Dwayne Powell Looney is escorting Pete and Billy Ray up a flight of stairs to a court room, Carl emerges from the building's basement with an assault rifle, and he kills Pete and Billy Ray for what they did to Tonya. Carl is later arrested at his house by African-American sheriff Ozzie Walls...

Writers: John Grisham, Akiva Goldsman

Matthew McConaughey - Jake Tyler Brigance
Sandra Bullock - Ellen Roark
Samuel L. Jackson - Carl Lee Hailey
Kevin Spacey - D.A. Rufus Buckley
Oliver Platt - Harry Rex Vonner
Charles S. Dutton - Sheriff Ozzie Walls (as Charles Dutton)
Brenda Fricker - Ethel Twitty
Donald Sutherland - Lucien Wilbanks
Kiefer Sutherland - Freddie Lee Cobb
Patrick McGoohan - Judge Omar Noose
Ashley Judd - Carla Brigance
Tonea Stewart - Gwen Hailey
Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly - Tonya Hailey (as RaéVen Larrymore Kelly)
Darrin Mitchell - Skip Hailey
LaConte McGrew - Slim Hailey

Taglines: A lawyer and his assistant fighting to save a father on trial for murder. A time to question what they believe. A time to doubt what they trust. And no time for mistakes.

Release Date: 24 July 1996

Filming Locations: Canton, Mississippi, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $19,630,000 (USA) (28 July 1996) (2123 Screens)

Gross: $145,600,000 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Among the numerous actors considered for the lead were Alec Baldwin, Brad Pitt, Bill Paxton, Ralph Fiennes and Aidan Quinn.

Plot holes: Jake's law practice doesn't make enough money to pay any of his bills, but he has thousands to buy fix-up materials for his house.

Ethel Twitty: Will you help an old lady to her car?
Lucien Wilbanks: You don't need any help, Ethel. But I'd be honored to escort you to your automobile.

User Review

Pretty Strong.


A truly tense film that takes place in present-day Mississippi. A young African-American girl has been raped by two backwoods white men. Her father (Samuel L. Jackson) takes the law into his own hands and kills the two. Now the small town becomes a hot-bed of controversy as a murder trial starts that gets national attention. There is the defense attorney (Matthew McConaughey) and his bright-eyed assistant (Sandra Bullock) against prosecutor supreme Kevin Spacey. A really solid film that works because of a screenplay that pulls no punches and revolutionary direction by Joel Schumacher. A great ensemble cast all excel here and the film captures a place that has turned into a media circus very well. A film that you will watch with clenched fists. An intense experience. 4 stars out of 5.


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