CINEMA: SUMMONS TO JUSTICE

A COURTROOM DRAMA WITH OLD-FASHIONED APPEAL

A Time to Kill is a likable--maybe even lovable--movie. These are admittedly strange words to apply to a bristling melodrama that begins with the brutal rape of a young black girl and proceeds to the murder of her redneck assailants by her father, then to his trial, during which a revived Ku Klux Klan employs the full range of its all-too-familiar terrorist tactics as it tries to prevent justice from being done.

Justice, in this case, cries out for acquittal. For Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) is a decent man, and if ever a homicide was justifiable, the vengeance he...

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