Spoiler alert? Actually, this whole review is intended to be a spoiler. This 2016 version of Witness for the Prosecution is just another exercise in postmodern futility and radical despair: totally rancid. You’re better off watching ants crawl in and out of the anthill.
Patty and I are big Agatha Christie fans, and Witness is a famous Christie short story that she later rewrote as a stage play. It has since been made into several movies. This is the latest.
It has hardly any resemblance to the story Christie wrote.
Toby Jones, really a marvelous actor, plays a small-time lawyer who has to defend a seemingly hopeless murder case. Against all odds, he gets his client acquitted. But that’s because he and the jury have been cleverly tricked by the defendant and his accomplice. They really did the murder, they get away with it, and an innocent woman winds up being hanged–none of which is in the original story.
What the writers are up to here is wallowing in total moral confusion. The lawyer does wrong because he tried to do right–get it? Ain’t we smart? We know there ain’t no such thing as right or wrong, and aren’t you a schmo for thinking that there is!
Sophomoric bilge. They think they’ll be taken seriously by heaping tribulation upon their defenseless protagonist. Boy, does the poor guy suffer! Lungs are shot from being gassed in WWI, lost his son in the war, his wife can’t love him anymore, and now he’s got all this evil on his conscience while the real bad guys ride off into the sunset, happy as a pair of clams… Why didn’t they give him a nasty paper cut, while they were at it? Or tie his shoelaces together? Oh, and they finally have him commit suicide. That’ll teach him to seek truth.
As the Good Book says, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).
This is a movie for interllecturals and other saps.