The Pelican Brief (1993) - Crime, Drama, Mystery

Hohum Score



A law student uncovers a conspiracy, putting herself and others in danger.

IMDB: 6.6
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington
Length: 141 Minutes
PG Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 16 out of 104 found boring (15.38%)

One-line Reviews (102)

A compelling film from start to finish with an outstanding cast.

The film is invariably exciting at times too.

when i watch a movie- i get immersed in it- totally involved.

Darby Shaw's well justified paranoia is intense and suspenseful, I really feel her fear and desperation.

I nearly fell asleep several times, and my overall reaction was that the film simply was a failure.

what a bore .

I tried to get into this movie but just couldn't, i think it was the sound of Julia Roberts voice, spending most of the time in the film talking over the phone with a low dragging drool, but not only that, the film was just boring, it was slow moving, dull, with no exciting bits.

The genuine friendship and mutual respect shown at their parting handshake and hug has a drama beyond that which the more predictable romance could possibly have brought.

So far have watched A Time to Kill, Runaway Jury, The Firm, The Client; and I think the legal elements make the thriller more exciting.

As for Roberts, she just bores me.

There were good moments in the film and at times it was quite exciting, but it was uneven and felt far longer and far more drawn out than was necessary.

I found large parts of the film to be dull and I also felt that it was far too long.

Engrossing, exasperating, enjoyably silly...

This has to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

All quite suspenseful, for me at least.

It grabs you right from the beginning with a subtle yet gripping performance by both Hume Cronyn & Denzel Washington.

What really let the Pelican Brief down was its dull screenplay; it wasn't particularly exciting or suspenseful and there weren't really any great plot twists.

Intense Brief between Julia Roberts & Denzel Washington :) .

Those bad guys popping up here and there with their disastrously deeds give you suspenseful moments, and makes you wonder if the government or Uncle Sam is watching your every move.

However, it also makes the plot quite intriguing, as the intelligent moviegoer becomes entangled at guessing just exactly who is associated with who, and so on.

Julia Roberts and Denzel are fine but the movie is too long!

Both of them come up with intense performances although Julia at the time had a long way to go.

If I've diverged from the movie itself it's partly because it is so unremarkable, even though it's a completely enjoyable film of its type.

Most enjoyable thriller .

Glossy, ho-hum thriller .

The plot is suspenseful, and it makes me want to find out what happens.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her plans to retire in the summer of 2005 which was followed by the unexpected death of William Rehnquist in the Fall of the same year.

The perfect sequencing makes it an enjoyable, entertaining experience.

This one is well worth watching for the story, the directing, and, most especially, for the lead actors.

Ho-hum adaptation still better than The Firm .

The underlying tension is the Star here by way of Director Pakula's restrained and riveting rhythm.

The constant surveillance, chase and murder is engaging and scary, these really kept me on edge throughout the film.

With an intriguing plot, numerous action sequences and a star-studded cast, it's no surprise that it did good business.

I'm not a fan of either Roherts or Washington, so for me to praise this movie shows you how suspenseful and entertaining it is as a thriller.

It's difficult to believe this ho-hum thriller - based on John Grisham's novel - was directed by Alan J.

Up and down thriller that runs way too long in the end to be completely successful.

I consider this movie as well-made thrilling investigation politic law story.

An Enjoyable, Star-Studded, Conspiracy Thriller .

The lead character of Darby Shaw is so bland that it quite frankly does not seem possible for her to have conspired this brief nor that anyone would consider her much of a threat.

This has to have been the only film I have seen where virtually nothing happened.

Smoothly done commercial package, well-paced and entertaining, though exceptionally far-fetched (which parlays into the enjoyment factor).

So kudos to Pakula, Roberts, and Washington for keeping things fairly exciting and interesting almost to the end; 'The Pelican Brief' does peter out as it reaches its conclusion.

Even the ending is contrived.

Such is the case with this star-studded yet plodding and, ultimately, dull movie.

Gripping, intelligent, acting is superb, the story is well constructed and builds in this beautiful crescendo.

It should be used in teaching film - how to construct a story, how to keep the story one step ahead of the audience, making it suspenseful and exciting without having to resort to unnecessary violence or sex to make a movie work.

Julia Roberts was so annoying with her low-talking monotone and feel-sorry-for-myself attitude, I wanted to shake her.

Yet, perhaps inspired by one another, they both give strong performances that carry the movie and make this definitely worth watching.

Enjoyable hollywood thriller that rises above average through great acting by Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.

While Julia on the run is compelling, she does things that seems unlikely.

Suspenseful, well-cast adaptation of John Grisham's novel has enough twists and turns (in addition to solid performances from two strong leads) to keep it from being just a simple chase flick.

But it was worth watching.

When "The Pelican Brief" came out in '93 it was a major box office hit everywhere, partly due to the casting of Julia Roberts as Darby Shaw (still riding on the "Pretty Woman" success which made her being cast in almost every greenlighted project around that time, from the average potboiler, "Sleeping with the Enemy" to the trite / corny, "Dying Young" and Spielberg's misstep, "Hook", all undeserved blockbusters...

They all seem to be bland-looking, middle-aged white men with pudgy tummies and receding hairlines.

Pakula saves dull plot .

It just felt a little contrived and a little bit too convenient.

In short, "The Pelican Brief" is a lifeless film directed by an once big name director, far away from his glory days, that feels more like a Julia Roberts' vehicle than an exciting political thriller.

The Pelican Brief, based on another in an interminable series of dull John Grisham novels, is a perfect snapshot of what to do if you want to make a zillion bucks with a high-star-power, breathless, clichéd blob of pablum.

The suspense is tangible, but low-key, which makes it all the more suspenseful.

As well as being somewhat dull at times, the screenplay didn't make sense at times - I'm still not sure how Julia Roberts knew that the guy in the lift was going to try and kill her (it's possible I might have missed something there as I'll admit that my mind was wandering from time to time due to how bored I was getting with the film).

But this should have been much better, more brainy and for sure more exciting, as it is it's a over long bore that wastes talent and premise in equal measure.

Another John Grisham novel becomes an entertaining thriller that opens with the murder of two Supreme Court justices.

Thriller snoozer .

Washington is equally as intense as Gray Grantham, a "Woodstein"-type reporter trying to get to the bottom of political corruption wherever it festers.

Certain elements, such as the car bombing scenes, were very predictable.

This is an intriguing political thriller where law student Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts) writes a brief about a government conspiracy after two U.

The story is compelling, and the cinematography lends itself to excellent suspense.

The story itself, even if it was standard, became confusing since the start due to badly edited sequences and the lack of information that was given to the viewer about what is happening on screen and who are those people involved in that situations, with Pakula assuming that every moviegoer read the book.

Intensely engaging and suspenseful .

Too bad that bias political propaganda is in here because most of this film is just a very good suspense film and well done at that.

This work isnt his greatest, but still a rather enjoyable hollywood thriller.

The Pelican Brief is quite frankly too often dull, a simple story is made to look over complicated by filling it with secondary characters that just come across as superfluous.

Roberts' and Washington's performance makes the film absorbing and entertaining from beginning to end.

The story is a bit contrived, if almost believable in that sensational kind of way that's formulaic.

The action begins when misfortune starts to happen around Shaw after her brief landed in the hands of the FBI, and soon finds herself dodging assassins and hiding out in hotels across the country, giving us an exciting on-the-run plot.

I agree though with comments made that at times the plot is a little confusing and it becomes difficult keeping some of the characters straight.

This is a movie for a tired CEO to fall asleep to.

The only film I have seen where virtually nothing happened .

One thing I did, at least expect, was an exciting and fast paced legal and political thriller.

Few do distress-turned-determination better than Julia Roberts, but after a slow start followed by a great deal of panicked running and hiding, interest wanes somewhat.

And when they're well handled, they're about as entertaining as movies get.

It didn't help that the pace is sluggish and the movie didn't involve, amaze or even dare, it's in fact dull and boring mostly of its length and feels like Pakula condensed half the book in some key scenes to get the storyline moving and the rest was just for showing the imposed by the Studio, Julia Roberts in every scene and camera angle possible and imaginary (and always with the same irritating expression).

A good entertaining political thriller .

It may be one of the worst Grisham's adaptations to the big screen, if you like the genre you rather watch "The Firm", "The Client" ('94) or even "A Time to Kill" ('96), because this one is a near waste of time...

borrowing elements of more deservedly remembered Alan Pakula movies like "All the President's Men" and "Parallax View", "Brief" is utterly contrived.

However, many moviegoers (including myself) will find elements of the plot confusing and hard to follow.

"The Pelican Brief" is intense and engaging.

Clever inquisitions by the pair is juxtaposed with intense action scenes from the first moment on...

Overall, "The Pelican Brief" is an enjoyable movie with the requisite number of chases, shoot-outs and explosions etc and plenty of suspense.

An unevenly paced yet engrossing thriller .

enjoyable .

That's why real intense rewrites are necessary.

It has a slow, almost beguiling, plot development.

This is a heckuva compelling political thriller that remains relevant in 2019.

So, with that personal bias showing, I still give THE PELICAN BRIEF a respectable rating because it does what it sets out to do--it keeps you hooked until the ending after a few unexpected plot twists totally in keeping with this kind of story where the heroine is in peril because she knows too much.

A most enjoyable, and occasionally tense, thriller whose beginning and finale are both far outdone by the fast middle.

The Pelican Brief is a thrilling, chilling story about a woman, a Law student who writes a top secret 'Brief' called the Pelican Brief, this brief is then passed on and 'somehow' gets out in the open and now they are looking for her and the person guarding her (Denzel Washington)the only man who can protect her.

The problem with this film is that it moved at a snail's pace and for me was just far too 'talky'.

It is mostly a contineous suspenseful thriller, with lots of dialogues and intricate con schemes.

We found Darby fascinating and smart and courageous.

It's what 'Enemy Of The State' should have been, but for the OTT acting, pyrotechnic overdrive, and self-indulgent violence.

Its a bit slow, and some of the suspense gets lost in the intricacies of the plot - and by the end, the film slows down almost unbearably, bordering on painfully.