YMMV / A Time to Kill

  • Americans Hate Tingle: See Values Dissonance below.
  • Cry for the Devil: The pro-Klan characters attempt to invoke this (albeit only amongst each other), claiming that the Klan is the only hope they have against black vigilantes. Whether that sentiment is at least sympathized with by members of the audience is certainly a controversial matter.
  • Designated Hero: The "heroes" of this movie are, at the most basic, a murderer and his lawyer, that heavily appeals to emotion to get his client free. That's one of the big reasons because of the Values Dissonance below. Though it's noted in the movie itself that justice could be considered served no matter what the outcome of the trial is.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Regardless of your personal opinions on the matter, thanks to Jake's emotional speech the jury don't so much find Carl Lee innocent on 2 counts of murder as "yeah he's guilty, but let him off anyway because they had it coming" (see Hollywood Law on the main page). It's even worse in the book, where Jake's speech is less of a Tear Jerker and has a greater emphasis on the revenge aspect of what Carl did.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Ellen Roark is a law student at Ole Miss, which is also the alma mater of Leigh Anne Tuohy, and both women are played by Sandra Bullock. (Even more remarkable because Bullock is a Virginian, not a Mississippian.)
  • He Really Can Act: Matthew McConaughey shows remarkable depth and assurance as Jake Brigance and effortlessly holds his own against a cast of veterans. His mature Career Resurrection 15 years later, capped with an Best Actor Oscar, showed that this was no fluke.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The rape of 10-year-old Tonya Hailey. Even though we don't see all that much, what we are shown and told is horrifying enough. Even worse, it's all toned down from its counterpart in the book.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Chris Cooper as the deputy who lost his leg in the attack, but holds no ill will and calls Carl Lee a hero.
  • Retroactive Recognition: That's Minny as Ellen's nurse.
  • Strawman Has a Point: You need not be a racist or a member of the Klan to think that what Carl Lee did was wrong. He openly killed two suspects in a courthouse, before they even had a chance to go to trial, and shot a guard in the leg (albeit unintentionally) resulting in him needing it amputated. If you wanted to, you could argue that this film winds up (whether intentionally or not) advocating vigilantism and mob rule.
  • Values Dissonance: This film sparked controversy in many European countries regarding the death penalty and the right of self-defense. The nation where the most cries of outrage came from were from France. French critics accused it of being "nauseating", "stinking", and in the most extreme cases claimed it promoted fascism, the last of which is ironic considering that the film won an award from the NAACP. note