Reviewed by: Debbie James
“THE CHAMBER” is a screen adaptation of a John Grisham novel of the same name. The movie begins in Mississippi, sixteen years ago, with a startling tragedy that immediately captures the viewer’s attention. We then “flash-forward” to present day.
Adam Hall (Chris O'Donnell) is an attorney in a “Yankee” Law Firm. He is watching a newsreel videotape of the aforementioned event. The man convicted for the crime is his racist grandfather Sam Cayhall (Gene Hackman), who is now on death row, facing the gas chamber. Cayhall has resigned himself that he is going to die. That is, until Adam surprisingly shows up one day. Adam is determined to pursue all leads, hoping to keep his aging grandfather from being executed.
As he begins to piece together his case, Nora Stark (Lela Rochon) mysteriously volunteers her help in his pursuit of the truth. She believes the information he seeks may be found in the old files of the Sovereignty Commission.
Adam visits his aunt Lee Bowen (Faye Dunaway), hoping she can tell him anything about his grandfather that might help. Lee has cut off all ties with her father and has tried to make a new life for herself as a wealthy socialite. Even though she is unwilling to get involved because she fears her friends will find out her true identity, she tells Adam what is was like to grow up with a Klansman for a father. What she tells him becomes the base for his defense of Cayhall.
“The Chamber” is suspenseful and tense and deals with some serious social issues: Broken families, suicide, hatred/racism, the death penalty, and alcoholism. There is no sex or nudity.
Content that Christians may find objectionable in this movie: About 50 obscenities and profanities (9 improper uses of the Lord’s name), (also racial slang), graphic visuals and descriptions of an execution in the gas chamber and a suicide victim, smoking and drinking (alcoholism), a Klansman makes prejudicial statements and equates them with God’s Law, several shootings/killings, a bombed building, and the death penalty is portrayed as cruel punishment.