Chicago 7

It’s no secret that Aaron Sorkin is one of the most acclaimed and talented screenwriters of the 21st century.

Though Sorkin made a name for himself with “A Few Good Men” in 1992 and “The American President” in 1995, it was his work on the hit 1999 TV show “The West Wing” that gave him a place among Hollywood royalty. This place has been further secured by pretty much everything he’s written since, as there was immense acclaim for films such as “The Social Network,” “Moneyball” and “Steve Jobs.”

Notably, most of Sorkin’s work comes exclusively from the realm of screenwriting. He made his directorial debut in 2017 with “Molly’s Game,” but that movie failed to make much of an impact on audiences. Despite this, there has been a lot of anticipation surrounding his latest project, “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is both written and directed by Sorkin. It tells the story of seven individuals in the midst of a lengthy trial stemming from their involvement in the protests and violence that occurred during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The group members have been accused by the federal government of intentionally starting a riot, but they believe they’re innocent and that the police were the first to incite violence.

This film is one of the most appropriate and timely films that could have been released in 2020. 

With all the political and societal unrest in the United States this year, seeing these protests and the concurrent trial of these men feels incredibly relevant. It’s a story that feels as if it could have very easily been taken from today, which makes its analysis of free speech, peaceful protests and the injustice of the American judicial system all the more potent. 

Sorkin knocked this film out of the park, both with his script and with his directing abilities. 

Every single aspect of this film works. There wasn’t a moment that felt out of place. No line of dialogue felt unnatural — the pacing and structure of the story was precise and gripping, and all the performances were absolutely impeccable across the board.

The cast of “The Trial of the Chicago 7” consists of a nearly endless list of incredible talent, but the lead roles in the film are played by Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen. Redmayne plays Tom Hayden, a well-known civil rights activist and key figure of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Cohen plays Abbie Hoffman, who is also a civil rights activist and founder of the “Yippies,” or Youth International Party. 

As portrayed in the film, Hayden and Hoffman both had different ideas about how to address social unrest and political injustice. Hayden advocated for more of a political revolution, while Hoffman fought for a social one. Though the two fought for similar ideals, their differences in opinion often sparked tension between the two. Redmayne and Cohen captured this tension between them flawlessly, and both gave absolutely jaw-dropping performances. 

They both managed to capture their characters’ personas perfectly. Redmayne felt like a genuinely passionate, politically-active college student. His performance felt genuine — less like a performance and more of a testament to who Hayden really was. Cohen’s performance carried the same passion and depth, despite him playing a very different character. Hoffman was more of a revolutionary who lacked regard for social norms, and Cohen brought his own sense of wit and carefree attitude that made the character all the more realistic. When Redmayne and Cohen acted opposite one another, the quality of their performances only escalated, becoming arguably some of the best performances in any film all year.

The rest of the supporting cast consists of stellar talents, such as Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frank Langella, Michael Keaton and more. Every single performer in this movie brings their A game, which makes this one of the most outstanding casts I’ve seen in a long time. It’s likely a contender to win Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards this year. 

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” is a film you have to see for yourself to truly understand how excellent it is. 

This review could go on for another thousand words and still not scratch the surface of just how fantastic this movie is. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen the whole year, and it will undoubtedly get plenty of Oscar nominations to cement that. 

It’s the kind of film that begs for continual rewatches and analyses. As soon as I finished watching it, I had to stop myself from starting it over right on the spot. It’s insanely well-structured and well-executed in every facet. It’s a top-tier Sorkin film, which is saying a lot.

The film was released on Netflix this past weekend, so please do yourself a favor and watch it. I promise you won’t regret it.