What You Need To Know:
(B, LLL, VV, SS, NN) Moral worldview portraying dedicated efforts to end inhumane treatment of prisoners at Alcatraz; 23 obscenities & 10 profanities; intense (though limited) portrayal of prison brutality -- prolonged solitary confinement, beatings, cutting prisoner with a razor (off camera), & man stabbed to death; brief depiction of attempted fornication & implied oral sex; and, brief rear male nudity.
Based on historical events, MURDER IN THE FIRST is an extraordinary but intense courtroom drama centering on the inhumane treatment of prisoners behind the imposing walls of Alcatraz a half century ago. Kevin Bacon delivers an Oscar-caliber performance as a prisoner on trial for killing another inmate, and Christian Slater stars as the young public defender who ultimately puts the entire prison on trial. Initially imprisoned as a teenager for the theft of a five dollar bill, prolonged and cruel mistreatment turns Henri into a broken man, virtually out of his mind. His rookie public defender feels compassion and determines to put an end to the prison atrocities.
Director Marc Rocco utilizes a highly visual storytelling style to complement an intelligent script. However, the most startling aspect of MURDER IN THE FIRST is Kevin Bacon’s remarkable performance. In his use of both physical and vocal mannerisms to convey the utter desolation of a young man pushed beyond the limits of his endurance for suffering, he is extraordinary. Some initial depictions of prison brutality and an attempted sexual encounter mar this expertly directed movie about the importance of seeking truth and serving “the least of these” behind prison walls.