Two words. One noun. Aaron. Sorkin. Along with Quentin Tarantino, I consider him one of the masters of dialogue. His dialogue alone makes THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, which was supposed to debut in theaters before coronavirus, but then Paramount sold it to Netflix because the filmmakers wanted it released before the election, the #2 film of 2020 for me, right behind Tenet. The dialogue in this, combined with the incredible cast that make the line deliveries seem effortless, is nothing sort of spectacular. When you also combine it with an inspirational but devastating story that is reminiscent to not only our current racial tensions in the world but also the political bullshit we are dealing with in our current major election, this film is masterful. To me, this is what pure, ingenious filmmaking is all about. Movies like this and Tenet are the reason why people like myself go to the theaters. And because of this asinine virus, I had to watch it at home, but the fact that I did not pick up my phone or get distracted once during the two hour and nine minute run time, says more than you will ever know. This is also required viewing. If you watch and do not like this movie, just stop watching movies and go back to your fucking on the spectrum sports that keeps on disappointing you week in and week out. And even though this is Aaron Sorkin’s only second time directing, he directs as if he was Spielberg, having already been doing it for years. Oh, and someone please give Bruno and Borat a Oscar nomination this awards season.
IMDB describes The Trial Of The Chicago 7 with the following, “The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.” To add more emphasis to that log line, prosecutors were trying to make an example of individuals and groups trying to rightfully and peacefully protest the Vietnam War by grouping them together in a conspiracy like domestic terrorism charge. It was bullshit. The things that the justice system tries to get away with during this event is going to make you fucking angry, I guarantee it, and again, if what happens doesn’t make you angry, you are probably a fucking Trump supporter. The incompetence of the judge, here played perfectly by veteran Frank Langella, and what he does to Black Panther Bobby Seale, played expertly by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, will make your jaw drop, face red for days after you’ve finished the movie. If you don’t know anything about the trial of the Chicago 7, I encourage you to not do any real research on it until AFTER you have watched this movie. You would think a film like this could get messy with the details, but Sorkin’s dialogue yet again gives the audience a master class in understanding what is going on, not getting confused in the slightest, while still entertaining you with witty words than just boringly stating the facts. Most of the movie takes place inside the court room, but the runtime still goes by in a flash, and in fact I could’ve watched an hour or two more of it.
There are a lot of well known A-list actors in this movie, so I’m not going to go one by one and rate their performances. I mentioned two highlights above, and others such as Eddie Redmayne, Michael Keaton, Mark Rylance, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt give solid performances, but the two that steal the movie completely out from everyone are Borat/Bruno’s Sasha Baron Cohen, and Succession’s Jeremy Strong, as two hippie leaders of students in the college system that want the Vietnam War to end. I could see either of these two guys getting an Oscar nomination in either lead or supporting for this film, more likely Cohen than Strong though. Cohen completely sheds his usual goofy character persona here to give his real life interpretation of Abbie Hoffman some bluster yet fragility that I never believed the actor could pull off until now. His performance is an amazing achievement and deserves to get him a serious career boost and not be overshadowed to his return to Borat next week in the Amazon Prime exclusive sequel. His relationship and rapport with Jeremy Strong’s Jerry Rubin is the best part of this film, one that will surely leave an impression on you once the movie is over, especially when you find out their ultimate fates in a title card sequence right before the end credits. There’s nothing more to say about this movie than has already been said in countless glowingly positive reviews from other more professional critics than I, leaving this film somewhere in the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes. This film will receive a whole bunch of nominations come Oscar award season (if that even happens because of this stupid fucking climate we are living in) and I will be rooting for it to win Best Picture, since a lot of dumbasses didn’t take to Tenet because it debuted in theaters at an “inappropriate time.” Fuck you who think that. Just go watch this movie. It’s an automatic ‘if you put money into a Vegas slot machine you get all 7’s the first time’ winner.