Hollywood’s baby boomer filmmakers have a knack for still churning out 90s era Oscar bait, the kind that (for good, bad, and eye rolling) earnestly romanticizes the revolutionary efforts of their generation. Aaron Sorkin certainly falls into that camp, but he may be the best of them.
Based on the real-life protests that escalated into violence at the 1968 Democratic convention and the trial of seven activists that followed (led by Abbie Hoffman, played by Sacha Baron Cohen), Sorkin brings his signature theatrical flare (and super-sharp “I wish I could think of zingers like that in real-time” dialogue) to the kind of material that often bloats with its own soaring self-import.
It remains to be seen to what degree (if any) that The Trial of the Chicago 7 falls prey to that common malady but, even if it does, it looks to be more riveting than the standard fare that plods along in a memorializing dirge; plus, we know the courtroom pyrotechnic potential of Sorkin vis-à-vis his classic A Few Good Men.
Reactions after an initial industry screening have buzzed positive, with some markers being laid on Best Supporting Actor potential for Frank Langhella as the trial’s cantankerous judge.
Led by an all-star cast including Academy Award winners Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), plus Joseph Gordon-Levitt and newly-crowned Best Actor-Drama Emmy winner Jeremy Strong (HBO’s Succession), The Trial of the Chicago 7 opens in select theaters later this September before debuting on Netflix October 16, 2020.