Box art for The Pelican Brief

The Pelican Brief

drama, thrillers


Julia Roberts who finds herself embroiled in a terrifying web of intrigue extending to the highest levels of government after she writes a speculative legal brief exposing the illegal activities of a powerful oil magnate.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    52%
  • Audience Score
    61%

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    52%
    reviews counted: 5
    see all The Pelican Brief reviews
  • Audience

    61%

Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: A curiously disappointing thriller from Alan Pakula, reaffirming the notion that John Gresham's best-selling novels are more fun to read (at the airport) than watch on the big screen, even if they star Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.

- Emanuel Levy, Screendaily, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: Definitely an easy rental and a good way to drown a couple of hours if you're looking for a little suspense, some law stuff, lotsa secondary players and a couple of renowned leads delivering the goods.

- JoBlo, JoBlo's Movie Emporium, Monday, March 30, 2009

Rotten: You'd think that Pakula would be just the man to tease the intellectual and emotional depth out of a Grisham potboiler, but you'd be wrong. Blu-ray]

- Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

2 stars

Not all that enthralling. Probably only of interest to Julia Roberts fans. Over long and hard to follow (or maybe just my attention kept drifting off). Wanted to like it, but just a bit dull.

- romy861, Sunday, March 14, 2010

2 stars

Not all that enthralling. Probably only of interest to Julia Roberts fans. Over long and hard to follow (or maybe just my attention kept drifting off). Wanted to like it, but just a bit dull.

- romy861, Sunday, March 14, 2010

4 stars

Made somewhere around the start of the mid-90's legal thriller craze (and most of those films were from John Grisham novels) The Pelican Brief is a film about a young law student's theory about the assassinations of two Supreme Court justices...and it just happens to actually be true. The paper reaches the president through a chain starting with her law professor - who she's also sleeping with - and uncovers a conspiracy involving the chief executive. Thus, the government does anything and everything to kill her, including murdering everyone she comes in contact with. Also coming into play in this is Denzel Washington, a Washington newspaper reporter who agrees to meet with her and becomes involved, no doubt because of the incredible attention and readership it would bring to him. The acting is superb, shifting from drama to action film almost effortlessly. I don't normally go for legal thrillers all that much, but this one is an exception to the rule.

- middleeasternfilms, Saturday, January 9, 2010