Film in review: “The Trial of the Chicago 7”


The Winonan’s film reporter rates “The Trial of the Chicago 7” 4/5.

Noah Mruz, Film Reviewer

We often forget those that fought and died to end the Vietnam War: a war we should have never been a part of, a war that costs thousands of American lives over the idea that the United States should teach others how to govern based off of the idea that Russia is influencing other countries to govern themselves.

The Vietnam War is now commonly regarded as a war the United States should have had no or limited involvement in, but back in 1968, this was a much more controversial opinion. The Netflix film “The Trial of The Chicago 7” follows eight members from three groups who are on trial following their protests of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is an excellent legal drama that showcases issues of equality, free speech and corruption in a way that is informative, exciting and entertaining at almost every turn thanks to an all-star cast and script.

One of the greatest strenths of the “The Trial of The Chicago 7” is also its main weakness: the issues it discusses. Throughout the film, the issues of corruption, the silencing of free speech and racially-charged hate crimes are all discussed. The film suffers from spreading itself too thin to cover all these topics. The heart of the film is never lost: a trial aiming to clear eight men of the charge to incite riots, but the other issues feel half-baked at times. At one moment, the film puts a strong emphasis on racism, then suddenly it is gone from the film–albeit in a satisfactory way–but still barely touched on again. Free speech has a much stronger emphasis but the varying viewpoints of those charged create a conflict in the film of what they are truly fighting for. It makes the film feel jagged in its viewpoints at times. I would say this is good if it was intentional to further emphasize the similarities and differences of these men, but since that is not clear, it just feels like important scenes were cut out of the film.

At the core of the film, there is a conviction, passion and small bits of comedy that give the film slight moments of levity in its stressful and inspiring subject matter thanks to the writing and the cast. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” starts out turbulently, quickly explaining the personalities of each of our protagonists. We quickly learn who we are following, how they stand with the Vietnam war and how they approach protests and violence. It is informative and masterful in its way to quickly get character interdictions. Having a more comedic actor like Sacha Baron Coen playing someone who has a more whimsical and joking view on the war pairs perfectly with the character who takes these protests more seriously with an actor more highly regarded such as Eddie Redmayne.

Each character feels perfectly cast in their role and each character feels like they are given the respect they deserve. Even those on the prosecution feel as if they are written in a way that feels accurate to their beliefs instead of being made evil since they are against the protagonist. Writer and director of the film, Aaron Sorkin, deserves high praise for the work he has done on this film with the depth and passion he can showcase in just slightly above two hours.

In short, “The Trial of The Chicago 7” is an excellent legal drama that, thanks to Sorkin, can show incredible and compelling passion and drama that will keep you captivated for the entire film. I am giving Netflix’s “The Trial of The Chicago 7” a 4 out of 5 stars, for the amazing work it showcases, only faltering slightly with the rapid changes of the focus of issues that film does not seem to fully commit to showcasing.