The Green Mile

Just when I thought Hollywood was on a slide down into mediocrity, I see a great film like The Green Mile that proves that there are still good movies that come out of Hollywood. Lately, it seems that the good movies are the ones that come from independent studios, but The Green Mile shows that a big budget movie out of the stables of Hollywood can still be a gripping movie and grab a viewers emotions and drain them.

The Green Mile is like a follow-up to writer/director Frank Darabont’s “Shawshank Redemption”. Both movies take place in about the same time and both movies take place in a prison. The Green Mile is a milder movie and has only one little flaw that can be overlooked if one tries hard enough.

The Green Mile is a prison ward that has a floor that is a light lime color. In this ward is held men who are on their last mile, they are on death row. The head guard on The Green Mile is Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) and his belief is that these prisoners should be talked to and not stressed during their last mile of life. One day the biggest prisoner enters The Green Mile; his name is John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan). As it turns out Coffey is in prison for the murder and rape of two young girls, but as we find out he’s just a gentle giant. Did Coffey commit the murders? We all can guess that plot point.

Coffey though, has a special gift and it is here that we have the little flaw that I mentioned before. Apparently, Coffey can take away disease with a touch and spit it out in a cloud of computer-generated flies. And the first time we are introduced to this is long into the movie, probably halfway or so (and this is a three-hour movie). With this much time invested in a wholesome movie that doesn’t need any suspension of disbelief, all the sudden we as the audience are forced to change mindsets when that cloud of computer-generated flies comes out of Coffey’s mouth. It’s jarring. It doesn’t by any means ruin the film, but it is jarring.

Both Shawshank and The Green Mile are scripts adapted by Darabont from Stephen King stories. I would say that Shawshank is the better movie, but The Green Mile is not far behind. With Shawshank it is a straight film about real people. With The Green Mile it’s a film with some need to suspend belief because of Coffey’s supernatural gift.

I must say the cast of The Green Mile is excellent. All of the actors do a wonderful job. Hanks and Duncan give standout performances. Both were convincing and were perfect for their characters. I have to give big kudos to Duncan who has been doing better and better roles. I first saw him in Armageddon, then in The Whole Nine Yards, and now his best role yet in The Green Mile. Among the other cast members that give great performances are Bonnie Hunt as Edgecomb’s wife; David Morse, Doug Hutchison and Barry Pepper as fellow guards; and Michael Jeter as Del an inmate in ward.

The script by Darabont and Darabont’s direction of the film are near perfect. And this film is one of the best films of 1999. I’m sad that I kept procrastinating and finally missed see The Green Mile in the theatres and ended up seeing it on DVD. If you were like me and missed The Green Mile in the theatres, don’t hesitate, go rent the video or DVD right away. Don’t Miss The Green Mile.