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The Chamber

3.8 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Chris O'Donnell, two-time Academy Award-winner Gene Hackman and Oscar-winner Faye Dunaway star in this gripping suspense thriller based on John Grisham's explosive best-selling novel. O'Donnell stars as idealistic young attorney Adam Hall who takes on the death row clemency case of his onetime Klansman grandfather, Sam Cayhall (Hackman). With just 28 days before the execution, Adam sets out to retrace the events leading to the crime for which Sam was convicted. As the impending death sentence looms closer, Adam works quickly to uncover the family's history for any hidden clues. In a white-knuckle series of twists and turns, Adam discovers deceptions and dark secrets that ultimately lead him to the startling truth.

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A top cast consisting of veteran aces Gene Hackman and Faye Dunaway can't rescue this way-too-long, dreadfully earnest version of John Grisham's equally gimpy novel. There are several problems in this story of an intertwined Southern family who must disentangle themselves from the past and the dark shadow of a 1967 bombing. That terrorist attack led to the deaths of two Jewish children and was pinned on the black-sheep patriarch of the family, a racist, card-carrying Klansman named Sam Cayhall (Hackman), who is now serving time on death row for the hate crime. Years later, the savior grandson cometh. Young-buck lawyer Adam Hall--played with righteous determination and limited range by Chris O'Donnell--pulls out all the stops to save his client from the Mississippi gas chamber. As is usual in Grisham country, the poor lawyer becomes embroiled in a plan more diabolical, corrupt, and layered than he could guess and the truth spirals out of control, endangering lives, and opening old wounds. The Chamber attempts to twist and turn through its plodding story, but there is no gray area in which to force the viewer to weigh his or her conscience against the skewed facts. Everything that occurs in The Chamber is black or white, good or bad, and there is no crisis of conflict to make us question the morality and stance of the two sides in play. The bad guys are awful, the politicians are bought off, the cops are either corrupt or apathetic, and only one puny guy is left to bring down a house of cards that's been standing solidly for decades. O'Donnell is quickly put to shame by Hackman, who even manages to suffer through a sadistically long, melodramatic stroll down death row with his dignity intact. --Paula Nechak

Special Features

  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Chris O'Donnell, Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Lela Rochon, Robert Prosky
    • Directors: James Foley
    • Writers: William Goldman, Chris Reese
    • Producers: John Davis, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish
    • Dubbed: French
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      R
      Restricted
    • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: May 26, 1998
    • Run Time: 113 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: 0783226942
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,081 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Chamber" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By Michael Butts HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 17, 2004
    Format: 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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    Format: 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.
    Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: 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
    Comment 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    Okay, so this film isn't what most Grisham fans, especially those who have seen adaptions such as "The Firm" and "The Rainmaker", and the author himself were hoping for, but it wasn't all bad. For one thing, it had Gene Hackman playing the aged condemned Klansman Sam Cayhall, a role Mr. Hackman aced. Chris O'Donnell wasn't all bad as Adam Hall, though this film was released not far from "Batman and Robin" so I involuntarily find myself making an unfavorable comparison between these two of Mr. O'Donnell's roles...he has better ones in the future once people have had a chance to recover from the trauma of that Batman disaster. Ultimately timing seems to have been against the young lad during this film. My other beef with this picture is it's noticeable deviations from it's source material. I consider "The Chamber" to be a classic Grisham work and one of my favorites in his bibliography, which is why I wanted to see this film. I certainly have no problem with a book's film adaptions steering away a bit from it's source material (i.e. The Shawshank Redemption), but when the alterations to the plot just don't work, that's when a film suffers. For example, this film's plot device of a secret society sanctioned by the state government (at the very least) being in league with the KKK was just an over-the-top attempt to explain racism in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era...the book's way of explaining that same issue may create some fictional events, but those are on a much smaller scale and are properly incoperated into history...therefore, the book's way works. As for the villain, Raymond J. Barry's role of Rollie Wedge was expanded from it's source material in the hopes that Jack Nickelson would take up the role. Unfortunetly that didn't happen. I'm not convinced that Mr.Read more ›
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    Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
    I guess I have seen all the Grisham movies. For me, this was the darkest and most gory. If you are looking for something smart and funny like Rainmaker or Runaway Jury, this is a little different. This movie addresses a number of difficult social issues such as racism and the death penalty in a very up-front and graphic way. I don't think it will spoil it too much by giving you one warning: Do not have the volume up to high for the first few scenes unless you have clean undergarments ready.
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    Well acted story, but apparently scenes from the book were left out which would've clarified motives, relationships and actions better. Good enough, yet felt incomplete as to tying everything together.
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