The Firm left an indelible mark when it premiered, distinguishing itself as one of the greatest thrillers of all time, earning critical admiration and enormous box office numbers. The movie set a new benchmark for the genre, and its gripping plot and exceptional product are as compelling today as they were in 1993 when the film premiered.
Sydney Pollack directed the film
The extraordinarily talented filmmaker and actor Sydney Pollack directed the film, which weaves legal drama, suspense, and action masterfully. It starred Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, and Holly Hunter.
Tom Cruise stars as a young and ambitious lawyer fresh out of Harvard Law School.
The narrative of The Firm follows Mitch McDeere (Cruise), a young and ambitious lawyer fresh out of Harvard Law School who displays remarkable legal acumen and grades at the top of his class. With his pick of the country’s best law firms, Mitch ultimately accepts an offer from Bendini, Lambert & Locke, a small but highly respected firm in Memphis. Bendini entices the young lawyer with a hefty salary, luxurious lifestyle offerings, and perks seemingly too good to be true.
McDeere soon sees through the sheen of prosperity to something darker, corrupting the heart of the firm.
While initially enamored with his new, plush life, McDeere soon sees through the sheen of prosperity to something darker, corrupting the heart of the firm. Cruise happens upon the law firm’s secrets when two of his colleagues die amid suspicious circumstances. Soon, his pro-bono investigations reveal the firm is merely a front for a massive money-laundering scheme—all of which is directed by the Chicago Mafia.
The deeper he goes, the worse it gets.
The FBI approaches Mitch, twisting his arm until he accrues evidence against the law firm.
Soon, the FBI approaches Mitch, twisting his arm until he accrues evidence against the law firm. Torn between legal ethics, his safety, and the understandable desire to safeguard his family, the young lawyer threads a labyrinth of deceit and danger. Things intensify when McDeere confirms the firm’s partners are as complicit in crime as their clients are.
Tom Cruise dodges life-threatening danger from the mob.
As Mitch hatches a hair-raising scheme to expose the firm’s illegal doings (without violating attorney-client privilege and being disbarred), he also dodges life-threatening danger from the mob. As peril mounts, Cruise and co. must employ all their skill and luck to outwit the law firm, the FBI, and the Chicago Mafia.
All while keeping their moral compasses at least marginally intact. It’s a stirring mediation on ethics, law, and violence—all amounting to a one-of-a-kind thriller.
The Firm is based on a book by John Grisham.
Like so many great films, The Firm is based on a book—in this case, the eponymous novel by John Grisham. Fans of the fiction work and film based upon it might not know that, upon sending the novel’s draft to his agent, bootleg copies of Grisham’s book were reproduced (unbeknownst to its author) and passed around Hollywood. Soon, Paramount Pictures scooped up the story for a cool $600,000.
In a rare instance, the movie deal preceded the book deal—and the existence of the former spurred the appetite for the latter, which Doubleday soon purchased.
The Firm premiered at number one at the box office, grossing $25.4 million.
Luckily for the film, it was released when Grisham’s popularity was at its apex. Thus, The Firm premiered at number one at the box office, grossing $25.4 million over the 4th of July weekend alone. It would remain at the number one spot for three staggering weeks; following 12 weeks in theatres, the film earned nearly $160 million domestically and $111 million worldwide, for about $270 million total—an astounding achievement. Interestingly, the movie constituted the widest-grossing movie with an R rating that year.
The Firm earned two nominations, one for Holly Hunter as Best Supporting Actress and another for Dave Grusin in the Best Original Score category.
A contender at the 1993 Oscars, The Firm earned two nominations, one for Holly Hunter as Best Supporting Actress and another for Dave Grusin in the Best Original Score category. Nominated alongside Anna Paquin for The Piano, Hunter ultimately lost to Paquin but won the Best Actress award for her work in The Piano (small world). For his part, despite his acclaimed score, Grusin lost to John Williams, whose iconic composition for Schindler’s List took home the Oscar for Best Original Score.
The movie enjoys a 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie enjoys a 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, aggregated from 58 reviews (averaging 6.20/10). The critics enjoyed The Firm’s innovative take on 1980s corporate/boardroom culture, alongside the character performances. However, some, like Robert Ebert, stipulated the narrative could have been less messy. For his part, James Berardinelli considered the movie too lengthy and mired in its needless details. However, Grisham voiced satisfaction with the adaptation of his book, particularly Cruise’s acting work.
Stream The Firm today.