The Firm
Paramount // R // $22.98 // May 29, 2011
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted May 27, 2011
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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Graphical Version

The Firm
was a gigantic box-office success when it opened in 1993 and it was a hugely popular thriller that wowed audiences with its surprisingly entertaining high quality ambitions. The film stars Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere, and the setup involves his character being offered a high paying job with a firm that should help to provide him and his wife Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn) the most wonderful upper-class lifestyle imaginable. Mitch agrees to the job and with the offer comes a nice home, car, and everything else he could have hoped would be tied into a neat bow. Unfortunately, not everything is as it seems with the firm and a spiral effect that could only be found in a breathless thriller like this one begins to unravel for Mitch and Abby.

The acting in The Firm is uniformly excellent from all lead players, and each actor demonstrates immense skill in bringing this story to life. Tom Cruise is arguably at the top of his game here. He brings a sense of innocence to the role that makes his character easy for audiences to connect to on an emotional level. As the situation becomes increasingly outrageous and downright scary for Mitch, Cruise elevates the intensity of the performance as only an actor of his caliber could. Jeanne Tripplehorn is equally important to the believability of the film, and is excellent as the wife Abby, who sees the potential issues with the firm but accepts Mitch's ambitions because of her immense love for him. Her performance is frequently subtle with a great emphasis on acting in a downplayed manner - one that brings more emotions to the surface than would have been a part of the character otherwise. Supporting actors such as Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, and Holly Hunter deliver superb performances in roles that help to elevate the material to thrilling heights.

The pacing of the film is crucial to its ultimate success. The film begins with a non-threatening and lighthearted tone that carries the early moments of the story into darker territories later on. This has as much to do with the excellent script by screenwriters David Rabe, Robert Towne, and David Rayfiel as it does with the immense craftsmanship of the direction by Sydney Pollack. Audiences absolutely responded favorably to the thriller aspect of this film, and it is clear that the reason why involved a delicate approach given to making The Firm. While the original book by John Grisham was undoubtedly well-crafted there are differences in the film script that some may consider as improvements.

The Academy Award nominated score by Dave Grusin matches the tone set by each scene with great effectiveness, and still sounds just as wonderful today. Grusin made a classic thriller score that deserves accolades of recognition.

The Firm remains an exciting film that is sure to please audiences today with its excellent storytelling approach and great cast. This is the kind of entertaining film that can be watched repeatedly without showing its age. This is something of a classic that belongs in the collection of dedicated film fans.

The Blu-ray:


The Firm has finally received a Blu-ray release. This Paramount catalogue title has received a new digital transfer which presents the film in 1:78:1, close to matching the original 1:85:1 theatrical presentation. The AVC encoded 1080p transfer is a huge improvement over the previous DVD edition. The colors and contrast have been improved dramatically and it is a pleasure to finally see the film receive an adequate presentation. Clarity is quite strong. Film grain is kept, but remains at a minimum. This transfer does not appear to have suffered from DNR, although there are some instances of slight edge enhancement that doesn't affect the overall presentation. The Firm has never looked as impressive as it does on this Blu-ray release.


The images featured in this review are from the DVD release and do not represent the High Definition Blu-ray picture quality.


The 5.1 surround sound Dolby TrueHD audio presentation is a nice step up over the standard mix included on the previous DVD release. The biggest benefit of the mix is the music score, which sounds well represented on this release. Dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to understand. Surrounds are not used to a high degree (other than to highlight the great score), but this release retains the sound design effectively. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is included for French and Spanish speakers. Subtitles are included in English (for the dead and hard of hearing), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.


Paramount hasn't put together any new extras for this Blu-ray release. It's an unfortunate aspect to the overall quality of the release. The DVD only included the teaser and theatrical trailers and this Blu-ray release contains the same exact trailers in 1080p High Definition.

Final Thoughts:

The Firm is one of the most entertaining thrillers of the 1990's. Tom Cruise delivered one of his finest performances and it was no surprise that he helped carry this exciting film into box office success. Sydney Pollack, an Oscar winning filmmaker, delivered one of his finest and easiest to enjoy films. While the lack of any substantial bonus materials is disappointing the high quality of the PQ/AQ presentation make this a Blu-ray release well worth owning. Highly Recommended.

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