The Firm



Grisham thriller has lots of twists, turns but is overlong.
  • Review Date: May 22, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 154 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's considerable lying, manipulating, spying, blackmail, and terrorizing. One man talks about raping a girl, saying, "It was just statutory rape." Another man refers to the only female lawyer in the firm as "affirmative action on stilts."


A lot of off-screen violence: talk of two lawyers being killed on a boat that inexplicably explodes, talk of suicide and death. Some thugs repeatedly wound a man by shooting off a part of his ear and then grazing his shoulder before killing him on screen. Mitch kills one man by dropping heavy weights on him and beats another man to death.


Mitch makes out with his wife, talks about cooking food naked, and has sex with another woman on a beach. Nothing graphic is shown other than some finger sucking and the unbuttoning of clothes. Avery flirts with and tries to seduce Abby.


Considerable salty language, including "son of a bitch," "hell," "f--k," "motherf--ker," "c--ksucker," and "s--t."


We see quite a few Mercedes, and there's mention of Red Stripe beer and Hilton hotels.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several characters drink to the point of being drunk. Avery drinks so much he passes out. Lamar drinks beer and smokes after he realizes that his coworkers have been killed. Abby drinks when she's unhappy with her husband.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this thriller based on a John Grisham novel contains considerable discussion of violence, corruption, and sexism. Women are treated as objects to either have affairs with or to bear their husbands' children. Mitch cheats on his wife. Several characters die, three of them on-screen and two of them by the supposed good-guy.

What's the story?

Tom Cruise is Mitch McDeere, a poor kid who grew up to graduate from Harvard Law School as one of the top five students. He's a whiz, but he's worked for everything he's got and he never got over his mom living in a trailer park. So when Bandini Lambert and Locke, a small Memphis law firm, offer him a huge salary, a house, a car and, most importantly, a sense of family, he moves his life, and his wife, Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn, who looks oddly similar to Katherine Heigl in this film) to the south. There, he discovers that, like a quiet suburban neighborhood, all is not what it appears. But can he get himself and Abby out before it destroys his life, his career, and his family -- and before he loses his life?

Is it any good?


Like all good dime-store thrillers, The Firm keeps you guessing and moves the plot along quickly through its many twists and turns. Still, that's not enough to make up for the indulgent length (2 1/2 hours) and one-dimensional characters. That is, except for slimy mentor Avery (Gene Hackman), who is conniving, scared, remorseful and libidinous all at once. He's fun to watch and the movie's only comic relief.

Don't expect the Hitchcock-level suspense The Firm clearly aims for. It twists and turns successfully, but the running time is tiring and the plot still sticks to a formula. You know Cruise's character will survive. The only question is How? Unlike thrillers like The Bourne Identity and its sequels, The Firm is predictable.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the importance of wealth. Do you believe, like Mitch, that there's not enough money to feel rich? How important is having things and money to you? What would you do to get it?

  • In classic literature, the character Faust makes his deal with the devil. Can you think of other movies or books where characters do the same thing?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 22, 1993
DVD release date:May 23, 2000
Cast:Gene Hackman, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tom Cruise
Director:Sydney Pollack
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:154 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some violence

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written bydavyborn September 17, 2011

Exhausting, extremely slow paced legal thriller may not interest younger teens

Featuring especially strong performances by Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman in particular, The Firm is still mostly just a very long legal thriller with sparsely exciting situations and heavy on protocol and the ear gratingly annoying (after 153 minutes, that is) all jazz music soundtrack that dominates the movie. Still, the R rating is appropriate considering the very infrequent but fairly brutal violence, some occasional sexual content, and profanity which gets quiet strong and frequent as the movie goes on. It is entertaining and interesting enough, but the book deserved a better adaptation.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byraphael's_girl July 20, 2011

The Firm

"The Firm", which is apparently based on the book of the same name which I have never read, has an great story. At least, that's what made me interested in seeing it in the first place. Add that to fact that I love thrillers, and renting this movie was kind of a no brainer. Like I said, the plot is very good. It might move a bit slowly at times, but there is always some bit of information or plot point just out of reach that keeps you watching. The acting was all excellent as well. "The Firm" even managed to pack in a positive message or two about the importance of keeping someone's trust and fighting for those you love. However, there is some violence (shooting and punching), and quite a bit of sexual content. Besides some sensual dialouge, there is blatant talk about adultery, and a key character in the film is shown doing it (we don't see any nudity). A few times people are shown unbuttoning each other's clothes. The language is pretty harsh, too, with uses of f---, s---, and more. Finally, a lot of characters drink to the point of drunkeness. Overall, "The Firm" is a very cool movie, and I reccomend it if you enjoy thrillers and can handle the long running time. But it's definitely for mature teens and up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byAthanaric February 28, 2011


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