The Pelican Brief - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Pelican Brief Reviews

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½ April 27, 2019
I was completely engrossed by the plot, despite its complexity and the unbelievable but fascinating premise. Denzel and Julia are both great and believable. It is hard to think of two actors who are more intrinsically believable in ordinary-people roles. I continue to be very impressed by the way that Julia Roberts plays all her roles straight; she respects her audience most than more actors.
April 22, 2019
Decent political thriller, though events of the late 201Xs make it seem a bit naive regarding the power of revelations of obstruction of justice. Still worth a watch if you are in the mood.
March 15, 2019
Stunningly stupid premise. A collage student writes a paper (that just happens correct) and instead of the the powers that be let this class paper get a the A- it deserves and forget about it. They go on a killing spree confirming the validity of the shot in the dark supposition of a term paper.
1 star for D.Washington
2 stars for Julia Roberts (I forgot ridiculously gorgeous she really was).
February 2, 2019
The best courtroom movie ever made!
December 10, 2018
How can the director of Klute, The Parallax View, All The President's Men, and Presumed Innocent go wrong? By starting with a lousy script, and working with actors who cannot overcome their star power to provide any subtlety or nuance. Those other films are among my favorites, and have plenty of A-List talent, but they're not forced to appear heroic or speak dumbed down dialogue. This story is complex, but there's no depiction of how Julia Roberts actually goes about creating her famous Brief, putting the pieces together. That should have been the heart of this movie. Instead we get caricatured hit guys, newspaper editors and a hunky law professor, with no build up of tension or the requisite intelligence. There are plenty of people who couldn't follow the events in President's Men, but that doesn't mean it should have been simplified, and Pakula was faithful in that pic, one of my favorites. This one is just lazy.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2018
With so much happening on screen for a bloated running time of 141 minutes, it is easy to overlook the countless inconsistencies and stupidities of this half-baked conspiracy thriller that believes to be pretty clever but is filled with paper-thin characters who rarely behave smartly.
Super Reviewer
November 16, 2018
A realistic conspiracy story that the audience can actually follow.
½ March 16, 2018
Rivwrting. The end is a bit overly schmaltzy.
½ November 26, 2017
Pakula is at his best when navigating between a world of political conspiracy on the one hand, and intrepid investigation on the other. While the movie could stand to lose some of its fat-do we need to see the trip to a rehab clinic, just for a single name? do we need to watch Roberts go through the process of opening a safety deposit box?-Pakula has otherwise crafted a popcorn thriller up to his usual, if not his brightest, standards.
October 19, 2017
This movie was beyond boring. The plot was interesting but the pacing and everything else is all dull. It has a great and impressive cast of actors but that was about it.
½ October 2, 2017
A pretty good mystery/thriller, set mostly in DC, with some involvement from the US president. It's definitely too long and too slow in many parts, but does do well to show Shaw (Roberts) & Grantham (Washington) uncovering clues. The two leads definitely carry the film - score's not bad, decent support cast and relatively high body count, for what's essentially a journalism story!
August 20, 2017
Stellar Conspiracy Theory Movie...1 of my favourite Grisham Movies...Denzel is Beautiful in this. SUPERB supporting cast, Serious Sam Shepherd, John Herd, Jovial John Lithgow, William Atherton, Hume Cronyn, Jake Weber, Stanley Tucci, Robert Culp...Julia's part could have been played by anyone, although she does seem genuinely "Freaked"
June 8, 2017
Let's face it, the Pelican Brief is completely unrealistic. In real life, a predisent would never resign just because of a silly thing like "obstruction of justice." Asking the FBI director to "back off" is simply within the Predisent's executive authority, although of course Hollywood snowflakes like Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington can't see that. I don't even see what the Predisent supposedly did wrong here. Where's the crime? Where's the proof that the guy from Celebrity Apprentice ... I mean, the A Team... colluded with Mattiece? Where's the proof? There's not even a crime. I'm mean, sure, the movie includes treasonous crimes, sure, but that was only associates of the Predisent -- satellites, maybe -- not the Predisent himself. He didn't pull the trigger. This whole movie was clearly just because people couldn't come to grips with Julia dying from cancer in that very boring movie with all the old ladies in it. Sad!
April 9, 2017
Story about a young girl who writes a school report that describes why a federal supreme court judge was murdered. Then suddenly people are trying to kill her. Denzel and Julia are cute. The story is good, but really slow. It needed better directing.
March 24, 2017
Not the best Grisham adaptation, but Denzel and Roberts are far more than acceptable, as always.
½ March 12, 2017
An OK thriller that was probably better as a novel
January 17, 2017
Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington co-star in the John Grisham based book, The Pelican Brief. Roberts is a promising law student Darby Shaw. When two supreme court judges are, both murdered, she has a theory known as the Pelican Brief. This theory proposes a massive conspiracy that involves government officials, the president, and a major corporation that has them both murdered for political and financial gain. She proposes this theory to her professor, who soon winds up dead along with several others that become abreast to this theory.

She soon comes across Gary Grantham (Washington) and she wants to get the story published. The two don't have any concrete proof and begin investigating to find the truth. They most avoid assassins, government spies, and are constantly fearing for their lives. The theory is eventually revealed in full and it theorizes that the justices were killed because they would not let expansion of a company to expand their territory because the land would threaten an endangered species of pelicans and their nesting ground. The new justices to be elected would be less pro environmental and vote and allow for the corporation to expand.
The Pelican Brief is a pretty average action thriller. Roberts and Washington put in typical performances to bring the film to an end. The fact that the theory is clearly true based on the people's deaths, makes for a less suspense, and the eventual reveal of the theory is at a point where I stopped caring much about the film. Despite the big names attached, The Pelican Brief does not offer much else and is likely one of Grisham's weakest novels and movies. This was also Alan J. Pakula's second to last film. Those who are a fan of the book will surely question the casting of Washington, and the lack of the romance between his character and Roberts that does exist in the book, but was not in the film at Washington's request.

January 2, 2017
Very exciting, enthralling political thriller starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. The movie is very smart and well-written, and keeps the intensity level high the entire ride.
½ December 30, 2016
Meh. Kind of slow moving and on the boring side.
November 14, 2016
This movie takes you out of the world till it ends and certainly will resonate even after. Suffice to say movie making in par excellence. It's pity why this was so underrated ?
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