A Civil Action
A Civil Action (1998)

Based on a true story about a small-time, self-possessed personal-injury attorney whose greed entangles him in a case that threatens to destroy him. The Woburn Case- which appears straightforward- instead evolves into a labyrinthine lawsuit… More

Rated: PG-13
Running Time:
Release Date: December 25, 1998
DVD Release Date: July 13, 1999
Add Your Rating
Rotten Tomatoes™
Critic Score
User Score

Available Online

Critic Score: 60% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Intelligent and unconventional.

Emanuel Levy

Based on a true story, this is an intelligent legal thriller, very much in the mode of 1970s issue-oriented films, that may be too subtle and complex for the damands of today's market.

Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

Like John Grisham for grownups.

Full review…
Maitland McDonagh
TV Guide

This is a case in which the material really is better served in book form.

Full review…
Time Out

Delivering the verdict two thirds into the movie is anti-climactic, while Schlichtmann's belated atonement feels beside the point.

Full review…
Janet Maslin
New York Times

The story presents both Schlichtmann and the civil court system as stubbornly complicated. And it tells a finely nuanced tale of right, wrong and the gray area in between.

Rob Gonsalves

The movie becomes one more David-and-Goliath morality play.

Full review…
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

As proficient a job as writer-director Steve Zaillian and his team do, A Civil Action has unmistakably unraveled by its close.

Full review…
Paul Tatara

Schlichtmann may have gone through this conversion in real life, but I just didn't buy it the way Zaillian presents it.

Full review…
Anthony Miele
Film Threat

While Travolta is passable as Schlichtmann, it is the outstanding work from Duvall, Macy and briefly Tony Shalhoub that drive the story.

Full review…
More reviews for A Civil Action

Flixster Audience Score: 55% Flixster User Reviews
Mark Walker
"Schindler's List" scribe Steven Zaillian seems to craft meticulous pieces of work. It's hard to put into words but his films seem to have… More
Candy Rose
Excellent movie based on true stories. John tries to find evidence to sue a factory for dumping waste in the local water supply.
Jeremy Smith
Ok Court drama.
Joseph Eastmond
I guess I have many thinks to pick out and chew at with "A CIvil Action", then again "William H. Macy" is one thing I can not tear apart,… More
Dan Schultz
A disappointingly pulse-less legal drama that features an incredibly dull lead performance from John Travolta, despite the rest of the cast being fairly on… More
Erin Collins
Good legal movie. Great cast and story. I wish it would've turned out differently for them.