‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’: Poignant but Terribly Unoriginal

I just finished watching the movie that had people talking: The Trial of the Chicago 7. I was expecting something poignant, riveting, and filled with scenes portrayed by some brilliant actors who would send this film soaring to the top of the Oscar race for Best Picture. Oh yeah, this movie was very resonant with the current state of our country and yeah the film was filled with actors known for their Oscar-nominated (Sacha Baron Cohen and Michael Keaton), Oscar-winning (Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance), Golden Globe nominated, (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) or Emmy-winning (Yahya Abdul Mateen II and Jeremy Strong) performances but that did not make this movie riveting.

The Trial of the Chicago 7, written and directed by Oscar-winning Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), is a bland retelling of the trials of seven men involved in the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois in 1968.

Told in the awfully similar approach as Spotlight, a film that won Best Picture in 2016 for its, no pun intended, spotlight on the Catholic priests and their burgeoning sexual misconduct with young boys, a topic that was very popular at the time, The Trial of Chicago 7 feels like a cheat code for a ticket to the Best Picture race. Because the idea of these peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the United States are being portrayed by our government as dangerous riots from the “radical left”, a term actually used in the movie by Joseph Gorden-Levitt’s character, Richard Schultz, is a daily topic, Aaron Sorkin decided to take on the topic head-on with this film.

The result: an underwhelming two-hour movie that moves along like you’d expect and ends with a rah-rah, supposed-to-get-you-clapping-and-cheering moment that felt so cliche I literally rolled my eyes.

Eddie Redmayne may get an Oscar nomination for his role as Thomas Hayden in this movie and if so I don’t understand why. The best thing about his acting in this film was his American accent, but he pretty much brought nothing to the table except a lot of screen time. In this movie, he basically felt like an American-accented Marius from Les Miserables, but with less stirring moments.

Yahya Abdul Mateen II did nothing special. I mean, I think nearly every African-American actor can pretend to be a Black Panther (the actual Black Panthers, not the Marvel superhero), upset with prejudiced white Americans, and can convey getting beat up pretty easily. There was not one moment in this movie from him that made me say inwardly, “Oh, this guy can act.”

The best acting of the film, I feel, goes to Mark Rylance, who I felt had the best moments and will probably remain the most memorable in the movie. Oh, and Jeremy Strong, who I didn’t even recognize under that hippie getup they put him in. Wow, he was amazing in this film.

(Plus, Michael Keaton swooped in and stole the show. He hands down had the two best scenes in the movie.)

All in all, The Trial of the Chicago 7 is no masterpiece and I, on several occasions, found myself wanting to stop watching the film. I only continued to the end so that I could fully comprehend the movie and what people who say it should be nominated for Best Picture like about the film.

I’m giving The Trial of the Chicago 7 3 out of 5 stars and 83 out of 100. It was just a little better than an average movie of this kind but ultimately very, very boring.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a spectacular day.

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