The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Aaron Sorkin is one of the best screenwriters in cinematic history. His most acclaimed work is The West Wing, Moneyball, Steve Jobs and the film that won him his one, and somehow only, Oscar, The Social Network. After these films, Sorkin decided to venture into taking on another task with his directorial debut Molly’s Game, which also earned him his third Academy Award nomination. All this work has built up and given him the reputation as one of the best, meaning actors are chomping to get the chance to give their performance to a Sorkin script. Names like Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are the big ones that were lucky enough to get a spot in this cast.

Sorkin’s name and the incredible cast are the big draw of this riveting true story set in 1968, surrounding the trial of 7 people all accused of inciting a riot.

So is this film worth watching with such great talent behind and in front of the camera? Of course, the writing and performances are just a couple of the big strengths of this film.

Let’s start with Sorkin, as he is the big draw for film fans. Believe it or not, the writing is incredible and I’d be willing to put money on this getting him a 4th Academy Award nomination for this work. There’s several lines that are so perfectly written, and what the film will be remembered for. The other strength of the script goes to the pacing. The film is a solid 129 minutes which fly by, and I could’ve easily watched another hour of these talents at work. The film gets right into it setting the scene and introducing the characters before the riot in quickly paced, well written and well edited scene where the dialogue cuts between the characters. A fantastic and gripping opening that grabs the audiences instantly and lures them into this fascinating story.

Because a courtroom drama spends so much time in one location, it requires all the actors to provide gripping performances to keep the audience engaged, and they certainly deliver. Each member of the cast does a good job, with some being particular standouts. The first standout performance I want to touch on is that of Yahya Abdul Mateen II who portrays the Black Panther leader, Bob Seale. He isn’t in the film as much as the 7 but when he is, he is super effective and his line delivery is perfect. The actor who broke out as his role of Black Manta in Aquaman as well as being in the critically acclaimed HBO series, Watchmen. Yayha has a huge future ahead of him appearing in 2021’s Candyman and The Matrix 4, as well as recently being cast in the Mad Max spinoff, Furiosa. If he can churn out this sort of performance, awards will certainly be in his future as well.

Mark Rylance puts in another great performance as defense lawyer, William Kunstler, in what I think might be the performance that might be the most likely to get an Academy Award nomination if any of them do. Jeremy Strong, Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen also all impress, especially for Redmayne and Baron Cohen when there characters are being questioned, and they get to show off their talent. People we already knew had talent from their Oscar nominations and wins. The other person who I thought did a great job was Frank Langella portraying the ‘villain’ of the film, the dodgy judge overseeing the case, who has powerful moments against him.

A really interesting story that I didn’t know anything about before today so I’m always glad to have learned something. The film is available on Netflix to watch now, and could pick up at least one Oscar nomination (and a strong chance at a win) when the Academy Awards roll around in April 2021.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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