Trial of the Chicago 7

A group of peaceful protestors are placed on trial in the aftermath of riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in The Trial of the Chicago 7. During the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 1968, thousands of protestors gather in Chicago to protest the Vietnam War, which turns into a violent clash with the police and the National Guard. In the aftermath of the riots, Tom Hayden () and Rennie Davis () of the Students for a Democratic Society, counter-culture Yippies Abbie Hoffman () and Jerry Rubin (), MOBE organizers David Dellinger (), John Froines (Danny Flaherty), and Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), and Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale () are charged with the conspiracy to incite the riot. Defended by civil rights lawyer William Kunstler () the eight are placed on trial, presided by Judge Julius Hoffman (), against the prosecution lead by Richard Schultz ().

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a historical drama written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network, A Few Good Men). The film is a dramatization of the trial against the titular “Chicago 7,” the name of whom is a bit of a misnomer, given that there were eight individuals on the defence stand, with Black Panther chairman Bobby Seale being unfairly charged along with the rest. The defence team of William Kunstler and his associate Leonard Weinglass () have a huge challenge against them, as they head into a politically fueled trial presided by an incredibly biased Judge in Julius Hoffman.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 marks Aaron Sorkin's second time behind the director's chair, following his 2017 debut Molly's Game, and is also accompanied by expectations stemming from Sorkin's nearly three-decade-long career writing for film and television. The Trial of the Chicago 7 follows a relatively straightforward plot device, with the main action taking place during the trial and various flashbacks being used to offer context to what is being said.

It can be argued that The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a film that is much more about the performances, with the strongest being Sasha Baron Cohen playing it straighter than usual as counter-culture activist Abbie Hoffman, who is often at odds with Eddie Redmayne as the more straight-laced Tom Hayden. Another major standout is Frank Langella, who is completely dislikable as the incredibly prejudiced Judge Julius Hoffman, who treats the defence as guilty for the entirety of the trial. The film also sports a notable third act cameo, whom I wish had more to do in the film.

Overall, if you are fans of the output of Aaron Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7 offers more of the same, supported by some strong performances.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is now streaming on Netflix

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