Drama. Suspense. Tension. Historical events with modern parallels. Movies that will stay with you long after you finish watching them. If you enjoy watching any of these things unfold, then The Trial of the Chicago 7 is for you.
The gripping historical drama has a star-studded, giant cast includes the likes of Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer), Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), Michael Keaton, and more. Director Aaron Sorkin stays true to his style of fast paced dialogue and memorable characters in this rated R film, flexing his historical drama expertise by playing with fast, different cuts and multiple timelines.
The movie, based off the infamous trial of the same nickname that followed the 1968 Democratic National Convention, captures the legal proceedings of the long and dramatic trial, in which seven young men are controversially charged with conspiracy to incite a riot, as well as inside views on both the prosecution and defense. In a gripping fashion, the movie replays the events from decades ago, showing both the trial and the events at the 1968 at DNC that are the reason for it. It demonstrates a fraught political situation eerily similar to events today, as the New York Times writes in a preview of the movie.
The scene is set beautifully in the movie, with first hand videos and photos from the events in 1968 and backstories for the main characters. Through a series of brilliant flashbacks throughout the movie, the film shows what happens in 1968 from the seven’s perspective, informing the viewer and letting them form their own opinion on the situation as the trial unfolds in front of them. Through gripping writing and character portrayals, the suspense and action of the plot draws the viewer in, having you intensely invested in a what crazy event could possibly happen next. The writing lays bare for the viewer what happened at the DNC, and the flaws in the US judicial system at the trial.
Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of SDS leader Tom Hayden and Sacha Baron Cohen’s portrayal of Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman is especially impressive. Pouring their heart and soul into their characters, Redmayne and Cohen beautifully demonstrate both the passion and complexity of their characters, at the end of the day united even if they don’t always agree on tactics.
Frank Langella offers a gripping and at times frightening portrayal of Judge Julius Hoffman, convincingly portraying Hoffman’s strong distaste for the defense and desire for the trial to go in the prosecution’s favor.
Although very action packed once it gets going, the film suffers in the beginning from a slow start filled with legal proceedings and background information. Generally the film does a very good job with demonstrating the context of the events that are occurring, but it drops the ball in some cases, with a timeline that is jumpy and a lack of context or background for some of the events that are influential to the plot.
Overall, the movie is fascinatingly entertaining, detailing both the dramatics of the trial and the inner workings of each group and their different perspectives, highlighting how their strength and weaknesses and the different ways they handle situations. The film offers the reader an important historical lesson on events in our history and the flaws of our country, although certainly not a boring one.
The Trial of the Chicago 7, stays with you, thanks to its gripping plot and emotional ending. Everyone can stand to learn from this movie and be entertained by it, and everyone should make an effort to open Netflix and take the time to view this suspension drama.