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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLUE GENE
Gene Hackman's electrifying performance dominates this adaptation of John Grisham's best selling novel. Hackman portrays Sam Cayhall, a man who's been on death row for sixteen years for the bombing of a lawyer's office that resulted in the death of the lawyer's two children. Cayhall is a vile man, who has lived a life of hatred and prejudice, the result of generations...
Published on November 17, 2004 by Michael Butts

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Book or Movie?
I have read the book and seen the movie and have to admit that this movie did not reach it's full potential.
This movie is about a Sam Cayhall(Hackman), a convicted murderer of two young Jewish boys in a Ku Klux Klan bombing. Cayhall has sat inside his little cell in the MSU of the Mississippi state penitentary counting the days until that faitful day when he takes...
Published on January 19, 2002 by Andrea Dykyj


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLUE GENE, November 17, 2004
By 
This review is from: The Chamber (DVD)
Gene Hackman's electrifying performance dominates this adaptation of John Grisham's best selling novel. Hackman portrays Sam Cayhall, a man who's been on death row for sixteen years for the bombing of a lawyer's office that resulted in the death of the lawyer's two children. Cayhall is a vile man, who has lived a life of hatred and prejudice, the result of generations of such bigoted ancestors. Enter Chris O'Donnell as his young grandson, who is a lawyer and wants to reopen the case and spare his grandfather the gas chamber. What ensues is a painful exploration of hatred, prejudice and a dysfunctional family.

I liked the movie, in spite of its several flaws. Hackman is phenomenal, and Chris O'Donnell does a good job as the naively innocent, but determined, young barrister. Faye Dunaway offers wonderful support as Hackman's estranged daughter who has lived a life of secrecy and guilt. Lela Rochon, Raymond Barry, David Marshall Grant and Robert Prosky offer fine support too.

I found myself involved in the movie, and feel it didn't offer any easy answers. Hackman is a guilty man, but his performance is so well doone that one can't help but feel sorry for the life he has chosen, and the life he has sacrificed.

I think it's well worth viewing.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acting that ought to knock anyone's socks off, December 31, 1999
By 
This review is from: The Chamber (DVD)
"The Chamber" is long, quiet and infinitely better the second time around, which makes it pretty seriously good indeed. Whatever you think of the plot and the completely salient points it makes on the subject of capital punishment the true joys of "The Chamber" are the performances of Faye Dunaway and Gene Hackman each of which are nothing short of astonishing. Dunaway's creation of Cayhall's daughter is as powerful, multi-layered and profound as anything she has ever done. Gene Hackman deserves to be inducted into the great actors hall of fame for his portrayal of Sam Cayhall. As his execution draws closer his moods swing through the gamut of human emotion creating a complete and almost unbearably real but flawed human person facing certain death. A best actor oscar should have been given for this performance. If acting is your job or something that you see all too rarely ignore the carping critics who found their sensibilities rubbed the wrong way and get "The Chamber" it improves with each viewing and says some very deep things about life and exactly what it means to be human. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Book or Movie?, January 19, 2002
This review is from: Chamber [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I have read the book and seen the movie and have to admit that this movie did not reach it's full potential.
This movie is about a Sam Cayhall(Hackman), a convicted murderer of two young Jewish boys in a Ku Klux Klan bombing. Cayhall has sat inside his little cell in the MSU of the Mississippi state penitentary counting the days until that faitful day when he takes his last breath in the chamber. His grandson Adam Hall('o Donnell) will not stand for it. As a lawyer he has been interested in this perticular case for many years and will not give up until he wins. He fights along the side of his bitter and hateful kin, putting up with every back stabbing comment only to get this man the freedom that most people think that he does not deserve. Now at the age of 70, he will have to fight until time runs out.
I understand that sometimes people have to cut things from the movie because they feel that it is not making it any better, but this is RIDICULOUS! While watching this movie, I felt like it was a two minute long movie. He kills, he fights, he dies. That is basically it. All of the good side plots have been cut. Being a big fan of these types of movies and books, this proved to be a major dissapointment to me. I actually feel bad for such an excellent actor like Gene Hackman to be involved in this monstrosity! He gave an excellent performance and THAT is worth watching. Everything else is just an eyesore. JUST READ THE BOOK (it may be long, but worthwhile)!
After reading the book, I was quite surprised at how much important information was cut. Though there is some excellent talent in this film, it still falls way short of any awards. I think that anybody would be better off reading the book than watching this movie. You should definitely read the book first and maybe even (ugh) see the movie. Compare the two and help me prove my point. The only reason that I gave this movie any stars was because I was pleased with the acting, not the script!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars devastatingly good - a real soul searcher, April 20, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Chamber (DVD)
i had to watch the chamber as part of a class project and i thought it would be a typical story witha happy ending as usual grisham writes a top rated book which gets you at the heart and leans on the subject of the gas chamber - a truly excellent book which gets you thinking that you don't know what freedom is until it is taken away
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read it? Don't watch it..., February 1, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Chamber (DVD)
While John Grisham writes extremely good books in which The Chamber is one of...this movie was just pathetic. The storyline of the book was chopped up and murdered. You dont see the changes that Gene Hackman goes through in the movie...one minute he's a KKK advocate and the next he's loving minorities. I have heard from people that haven't read the book that it was a good movie, but this movie is not worth it if you have read it. With the big names in this film...the story line should have been written to FOLLOW THE BOOK!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a Keeper, March 31, 2002
By 
"racinral" (Punxsutawney, Pa. United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Chamber (DVD)
I've enjoyed the movie twice & am adding it to my collection.
Gene Hackman is terrific as usual. Faye Dunaway even better in this particuar movie.
I wasn't familar with the story & hadn't heard of the book, just walked into the movie out of the blue one night because I saw Gene Hackman was in it.
Enjoyed it very much!!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What Is Justice? What Is Evil?, June 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Chamber [VHS] (VHS Tape)
There are few clearcut issues in life, and Grisham explores so many gray areas in The Chamber. Can a truly evil man be remorseful and transformed? Is justice sometimes inappropriate, too harsh or excessive? Gene Hackman gives a tremendous portrayal as a racist slimeball sentenced to the gas chamber for a horrific hate bombing in the 60's, where Jewish twin boys were blown to bits. The movie describes all the legal maneuvering to keep him from his date with the executioner. Is Hackman a changed man? Does he regret his actions? Is he remorseful? Is he foolishly and blindly protecting someone? Is it in society's best interest to kill him some 30 years after his crime? These are the moral questions that swirl around inside the Chamber. The answers are up to you........
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, July 4, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Chamber [VHS] (VHS Tape)
About halfway through the book,"The Chamber", I discovered that the movie would be airing on television. It's pretty difficult to review a film that can barely hold your attention, steadily, for no more than half an hour. It lacks the gripping drama and suspense of the book and of other Grisham novel adaptations like "The Firm" and most especially "A Time to Kill".
With the exception of Gene Hackman as death row inmate Sam Cayhall, the casting is what most hurts this movie. Chris O'Donnell may have been the big "it" guy as far as young actors at the time this movie was made, but he just can't hack it in the role of a lawyer. Especially one who is defending his grandfather on death row. You'd expect a lot more emotion and charisma. O'Donnell's portrayal lacks this natural emotion and frankly, the confidence needed in general to be a convincing attorney. Lela Rochon is rarely good as anything but eye candy and since that is not her role here, she doesn't fit. In the most odd and questionable casting move, football player Bo Jackson as the death row warden? They shouldn't have adapted this great novel into a film, at least not at a time when the field of young actors was so scarce and undesirable.
The storyline is great but in the film it is so cut down that you're best off to just stick with the book version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Thanks To Hackman & O'Donnell, May 21, 2009
By 
Craig Connell (Lockport, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Chamber (DVD)
You can thank Chris O'Donnell and Gene Hackman for two excellent acting performances which helped make this so entertaining in spots, because it's a bit talky.

O'Donnell plays young attorney "Adam Hall" (shades of Matt Damon's character in another John Grisham movie, "The Rainmaker"). Meanwhile, it's no surprise that Hackman gives us another fascinating performance, this time as the attorney's brutally racist grandfather, "Sam Cayhall."

He's been imprisoned for a murder and O'Donnell is trying to release him from a death sentence. Hackman's performance elevates from a "fair" to a "good" movie. While O'Donnell is trying to do his job, a few revelations occur considering his Klansman grandpa. Faye Dunaway also is in here and has a memorable scene with "Sam."

Yes, the national critics were right in that this could have been better but they were off base blasting this film. It's still an entertaining movie, and that counts for plenty.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor execution of book kills this movie, November 21, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Chamber (DVD)
This was a very poor adaptation of the book. The book explored how the grandfather on death row went through some deep regret and remorse for his past actions and he came to love his grandson. As a reader it was possible to have some empathy for this character as his remorse seemed genuine and he realized too late the life choices he made were wrong. Gene Hackman's portrayal was anything, but sympathetic and I was ready for him to go to the gas chamber! Faye Dunaway was also miscast and was not believable as Hackman's daughter. This book deserved to be better made than how this movie turned out.
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The Chamber
The Chamber by James Foley
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