“The Firm” features one of the most surprising performances of Gene Hackman’s career. Initially, it appeared that his character, Avery Tolar, was one of the main antagonists of the film. It was later found that Avery had done things that he was ashamed of, but in his heart he was not a cruel person. There is a surprising complexity that Hackman brings to the character, even though he is ultimately a pawn in the larger plot. A detail like this isn’t necessary for the movie, but it does make it more rounded.
“The Firm” is about Harvard law student Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise), who receives a generous job offer from the Tennessee law firm Bendini, Lambert & Locke. McDeere accepts the position, and moves with his wife Abby (Jeanne Tripplehorn) to Memphis. After learning the operating principles from his senior partner Avery, Mitch began to suspect that there were some shady aspects of the business. Eventually, he uncovers a plot to hurt the company, but senior partners are watching his every move to make sure he doesn’t speak up. Hackman shows that although Avery engages in cover-ups, he is not a bad man. There’s a great scene where Abby tries to seduce Avery to get sensitive information. It’s a beautiful moment when both characters open up to each other, with Abby still mad at her husband for the affair and Avery feeling guilty.
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