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The Trial

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for some thematic material and a disturbing image.

Reviewed by: Jacob Airey

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens Adults
Christian Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
DVD: November 9, 2010
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Relevant Issues
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justice in the Bible



justice of God

Just One


SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

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Pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

The Comforter

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Featuring: Matthew Modine (Mac), Robert Forster (Ray), Larry Bagby (Spencer Hightower), Bob Gunton (Joe Whetstone), Randy Wayne (Pete Thomason), Rance Howard (Judge Danielson), Clare Carey (Dr. Anna Wilkes), Nikki Deloach (Mindy), Burgess Jenkins (Harry O'ryan), See all »
Director: Gary Wheeler
Producer: Level Path Productions, Trial Productions, Mark Freiburger, Elise Graham, See all »
Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

“A lawyer ready to die takes one final case… the trial of his life.”

Synopsis: “After the horrific death of his wife and two sons, suicide seems to be the only escape for small town attorney Kent ‘Mac’ McClain… until he’s assigned a capital punishment case that begins to transform his life and those around him forever.

Attorney Kent ‘Mac’ MacClain has nothing left to live for. Nine years after the horrific accident that claimed the life of his wife and two sons, he’s finally given up. His empty house is a mirror for his empty soul, it seems suicide is his only escape. And then the phone rings.

Angela Hightower, the beautiful heiress and daughter of the most powerful man in Dennison Springs, has been found dead at the bottom of a ravine. The accused killer, Peter Thomason, needs a lawyer. But Mac has come up against the Hightowers and their ruthless, high-powered lawyers before—an encounter that left his practice and reputation reeling.

The evidence pointing to Thoomason’s guilt seems insurmountable. Is Mac definding an ingenious psychopath, or has Thomason been framed—possibly by a member of the victim’s family? It comes down to one last trial. For Thomason, the opponent is the electric chair. For Mac, it is his own tormented past—a foe that will prove every bit as deadly.”

Book cover, front


“The Trial” is based on the novel by Robert Whitlow published by Thomas Nelson. The story is about a suicidal lawyer, Mac (Matthew Modine), who, just before he is about to take his life, gets a phone call. It is from a local judge who wants him to take on one last case.

The case is about the murder and attempted rape of an innocent college aged girl. The accused is a young, former Marine, Pete Thomason (Randy Wayne—“To Save A Life”), who has no memory of the events surrounding the murder.

Did this young man kill his girlfriend, or is there a conspiracy behind the case that no one can seem to find? Can Mac take on the dead girl’s rich and powerful father, who wants Pete executed for allegedly committing the murder?

Gary Wheeler’s epic retelling of this book makes a John Grisham-style courtroom drama that kept me on the edge of my seat and kept me guessing.

The movie is almost completely clean. There are a few instances of discussing of drug use. There is a scene where Mac has a flashback to a car accident that took away his whole family, but the scene takes place after the crash. There is a little violence involving gunfire. There is no foul language and no sexual content at all, thus proving that you can make a good movie and keep it clean.

The movie references the Book of Ecclesiastes famous quote, “a time of healing.” Mac is definitely going through his time of mourning, but with help from his friends, both old and new, he discovers his time of healing. The movie shows God as the source of healing, and indeed He is. Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” God cares for you, and He wants you to lay your burdens at the foot of the cross.

Christian producer Gary Wheeler made an amazing movie. He is a talented director. I highly recommend “The Trial” to all of you who love courtroom dramas and suspense dramas.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—Hoping for a clean John Grisham style flick, my husband and I rented “The Trial.” From the opening scene I knew we had a flop on hand. The foreshadowing is cheesy and beyond obvious. There’s almost no background music through the entire movie. Little to no character development and school play acting talent. The young man acting the accused victim couldn’t figure out how to look innocent and slightly troubled—he looked constipated and confused.

It was short of anything close to a plot that a slightly imaginative adult could conjur up in less time than it took for this movie to prove it was going now where, and slowly at that. The script was lame, and “meaningful gazes” between characters did nothing but make us laugh and think, “no script, no plot, no talent…”

True: it was clean and morally inoffensive. We found it embarassingly devoid of intelligent design. I don’t intend to be needlessly critical. I would not recommend this movie; its only positive aspect is the lack of sex, language or violence but you can get that from a game of Monopoly.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: ½
LE, age 27 (USA)
Negative—This is the first review I’ve ever written. I really love courtroom dramas, and because I’ve read and viewed so many, I am very sensitive to the gaping holes in the trial shown here. Where was the motive? How could ANY jury convict on such sketchy circumstantial evidence? Why wasn’t the presence of GHB in Pete’s blood enough, all by itself, to prove reasonable doubt?

This is one of the worst written, worst acted, movies I’ve ever watched. The acting reminded me of what we were taught NOT to do in high school drama. I didn’t know this was a “Christian movie” until I looked it up after watching it. Why can’t we have excellence with Christian worldview? I think it would be a much better testimony.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: ½
Margarita J. Noyes, age 55 (USA)