As a young man Henri Young stole five dollars from a store that doubles as a U.S. Post Office resulting in a felony conviction and his being sent to Alcatraz prison with hardcore criminals. After being caught trying to escape, Young is made an example of by the assistant warden and put in solitary confinement for three years rather than the usual 19 days. Upon his emergence with psychological problems he immediately murders a fellow inmate and is assigned rookie lawyer James who builds a defense around the solitary confinement.
Christian Slater (James Stamphill), Kevin Bacon (Henri Young), Gary Oldman (Glenn), Embeth Davidtz (Mary), William H. Macy (McNeil), Stephen Tobolowsky (Henkin), Brad Dourif (Byron), R. Lee Ermey (Clawson), Kyra Sedgwick (Blanche).
Murder in the First begins with plot background and setting of past events while narrative provides depth and brings the story to current events. From there the film explores the torture and mental instability of Young that causes him to murder a fellow inmate upon his release from solitary confinement. Slowly shifting gears the story tries to explore the legal issues Young had, and how a defense for murder could be based on the torture he experienced. The film purports to be based on a true story but the only truth to the film is that Henry (Henri) Young was an inmate at Alcatraz for a time.
Acting by Bacon was incredibly well done. His delivery of emotion and portrayal of a psychologically damaged criminal really made the film. Slater did fairly well and seemed to have good chemistry with Bacon. Oldman, Macy, Dourif, Ermey and others did a good job supporting with nice delivery and polish.
Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were good though some dark scenes were almost too dark. Use of supposed historical footage was a nice introduction to the plot. Effects were action based and mild. Dialogue was solid with some nice lines and emotion. Sound was a bit challenging at times during low conversations, while the soundtrack was fitting.
Overall Murder in the First is a surprisingly entertaining drama presenting a variety of emotional aspects along with the suspense of a courtroom battle. Those who prefer edgy drama will likely enjoy this the most, along with Kevin Bacon fans.
With foul language, persistent violence, nudity, sexually oriented nudity, and adult concepts save this for adults and above.
Murder in the First is no longer showing in any Littleton Colorado movie theatres.
Star rating: 4 out of 5
copyright ©2011 Dave
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