The first third of Robert Redford’s historical drama is a static civics lesson about the principles of due process and the importance of maintaining the rule of law in times of war. Just when you’re thinking about ducking out of class, though, a wave of emotional momentum comes along, shaking the dust off the textbooks. Credit lead actors Robin Wright, who plays a woman charged with conspiring to murder Abraham Lincoln, and James MacAvoy, her reluctant defence attorney, for bringing the movie to life. Wright’s quiet dignity and MacAvoy’s fierce energy combine well on screen, and the excellent supporting turns from Tom Wilkinson and Kevin Kline certainly don’t hurt. The climax is no less stirring for being pre-ordained, and the parallels to the current Guantanamo era make it all the more relevant.
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