The Trial of the Chicago 7 comes in a long line of movies based on stories from the history pages. It reflects the current political climate and the similarities are more than just the protests.
A petty old man got upstaged during his confirmation hearing. So he sought to undo what the previous occupant of his position did. Seven men were handpicked for indictment over riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Of course, Eddie Redmayne wouldn’t miss any movie with Oscar potential so he’s here in an ensemble cast based from real people. Everyone delivered great performances, with Mark Rylance and Frank Langella standing out.
There’s plenty of amusing banter and bickering here – clashes between different ideals, court interruptions, and ridiculous power-tripping will keep you entertained.
The old school leftist Tom Hayden looks down on the radical hippie Abbie Hoffman. Each has co-leaders – Rennie Davis and Jerry Rubin – who gets pulled along. David Dellinger is the unlucky pacifist. Lee Weiner and John Froines are the give-back – a couple of guys that the jury could acquit so they feel better about finding the rest of the group guilty. Bobby Seale somehow got roped into the trial because he doesn’t have a lawyer. The exasperated yet calm William Kunstler dukes it out with the biased Judge Hoffman who feigns ignorance to get his way in court.
The script brilliantly weaves flashbacks with courtroom drama. The plot is perfectly paced from beginning to end that you’ll be cheering along when the Defense Counsel finally realizes who their star witness is. Michael Keaton stole the show with only two scenes.
The Trial of the Chicago will no doubt entertain audiences, but it also follows that grand tradition of Hollywoodizing historical events.
Aaron Sorkin uses old fashioned artistic license to distort facts and character motivation for the benefit of the plot. His retelling of The Trial of The Chicago 7 trivializes the men and the antiwar movement that inspired it.
It can be argued that this is a movie and not a documentary. The trailer promised an Oscar-pleasing movie that even the Gen Z can enjoy. At the least, it’s a timely movie that helps garner attention to the antiwar movement that may happen again in this lifetime.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
The Trial of the Chicago 7 prioritizes theatrics over truth, but it can't be denied that it's an entertaining and engaging historical drama.