The Firm

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Year Released 1993
Running Time 148:14 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (80:34)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Programme
Region 4 Director Sydney Pollack

Starring Tom Cruise
Jeanne Tripplehorn
Ed Harris
Holly Hunter
Hal Holbrook
David Strathairn
RPI $39.95 Music Dave Grusin

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 224Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles Greek
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits Yes, at the start of the credits

Plot Synopsis

    I promise: no cheap lawyer jokes.

    John Grisham has got to be the best friend of every American lawyer. He consistently writes thrillers based around honourable, brave and ethical lawyers triumphing over the forces of evil. The Firm is no exception, and in the able hands of director Sydney Pollack, John Grisham's novel is brought to the big screen as a taut, spellbinding thriller.

    These days, whenever I get a chance to review a DVD, I find myself frequently checking the time elapsed meter, and start to get very fidgety at around the 60 minute mark. Whilst watching The Firm, I looked at the time counter once - at the 15 minute mark. The next time I looked at the counter, over 2 hours later, it was after the movie had finished, to read the exact running time of the DVD. Being totally engrossed in a movie as I was for this one is a rarity for me these days, even more so when you consider that I have seen this movie before, and so am familiar with the twists and turns of the story.

    Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) is a hot-shot Harvard Law graduate who is made an offer he cannot refuse to join a relatively small ("only 41 lawyers..."), but very well-paying law firm in Memphis. He and his wife, Abigail (Jeanne Tripplehorn) move to Memphis, where they are showered with gifts and hospitality. But, all is not as it seems in paradise...

    Strong performances by Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman carry this movie. A decent supporting cast, including an all-but-unrecognizable Ed Harris, help to maintain the pace at other times.

    Q: Why does everyone hate lawyers on sight? A: It saves time. Sorry. I lied.

Transfer Quality


    This is a reasonably good-looking transfer, although it is certainly showing its age a little more than it perhaps should.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is generally quite sharp with a fair amount of detail on offer, although the level of detail falls off significantly in darker scenes, with only limited shadow detail available. There was no low level noise, but there was a moderate amount of grain spread throughout the transfer. Shots of the sky were particularly problematic for grain, as were the low-light shots of Tom Cruise at around the 67 minute mark.

    Colours were generally nicely rendered, particularly in the brightly lit scenes, with the scenes set in the Cayman Islands often exploding with vibrant colours. Darker scenes displayed a more muted palette. There was no oversaturation or colour bleed.

    There were no MPEG artefacts as such, although there was a possible MPEG motion compensation artefact between 35:34 and 35:43, where the room's chandelier shifted subtly left and right in a most disconcerting manner. Aliasing was well-controlled by this transfer, with the worst instance being represented by a minor instance on a bookcase at 15:36. Film artefacts were surprisingly frequent and surprisingly large, particularly when taking into consideration the relative youth of this movie. Whilst never overly distracting, they were certainly more noticeable than I expected them to be, and were probably the most disappointing aspect of this transfer.

    This DVD is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 80:34. Whilst noticeable, it is not overly bothersome.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; English in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish and Italian in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded. I listened only to the English soundtrack.

    The dialogue is generally clear, with a few dialogue peaks marred by minor distortion, and occasional lapses into quite muffled dialogue. At no time, however, is the dialogue anything but easily intelligible, important for a movie such as this one where the rapid pace is such that you cannot afford to miss even a single line of dialogue. Some of the dialogue appears fairly poorly ADRed, with poor spatial integration. Other than these marginal ADR moments, there were no specific audio sync problems evident in this soundtrack.

    The musical score is by Dave Grusin, and it truly makes the movie what it is. Predominately jazzy and piano-based, the music ranges in emotion from jaunty to aggressive to discordant to melodic, all brilliantly married to the on-screen action in one of the best examples of musical subtlety that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Not very many movies are suited to this relatively minimalist style of score, but The Firm certainly is, and the music plunges you right into the middle of the action from its very first note.

    The surround channels had essentially no use, and certainly no split surround use by this fundamentally stereo soundtrack. The music and sound effects were spread widely across the front soundstage, but the rears were limited to minimal ambience, such as a slight echo from the rears during the jail scene, and some slight musical ambience. Similarly, the subwoofer had essentially nothing to do.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are minimal extras on this DVD.


    Basic. 16x9 enhanced.

Teaser Trailer

Theatrical Trailer

R4 vs R1

    Both the R4 and R1 versions are identically featured.


    The Firm is a surprisingly decent, if slightly far-fetched legal thriller, presented on a perfectly acceptable DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
29th May 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Denon DVD-3300, using RGB output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the RGB input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Denon AVD-1000 DTS AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials and the NTSC DVD version of The Ultimate DVD Demo Disc.
Amplification EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifier for Left & Right Front; Marantz MA6100 125W per channel monoblock amplifiers for Left & Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO Subwoofer