Well, I know this movie came out 10 years ago (really!)--and for that matter, I got it from Netflix over a month ago--but I just got around to seeing it tonight. So here goes:
This is a pretty good movie. Turns out, Matthew McConaughey could act. I was surpised. Overall, it's a bit of a downer--what with it being about slavery and all--but it definitely has its moments.
Of course, part of the reason I like it is because of my avowed status as a history nerd. If you don't enjoy jokes at Martin Van Buren's expense, for example, you might not appreciate the movie quite as much. Which would be a shame, because there's a lot of mileage in making fun of Martin Van Buren.
Ooh, and then there's the whole reason I really wanted to see this movie: John Quincy Adams, baby! It's not every day that you come across a film featuring our sixth president in a major role. And he is played by none less than Anthony Hopkins. However, although Sir Anthony is a very fine actor, he does contribute to some of the unintentional humor of the film when on some occasions he seems to be giving JQA an Irish accent. Also, I think that when he asked the director what his motivation was, the director said something along the lines of, "OK, picture this: you're an old coot."
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit it's a very talk-y movie (Blah blah blah freedom, blah blah blah executive branch shouldn't boss around the judicial, blah blah blah legal system loopholes, etc.). However, the movie opens with some good old-fashioned stabbing, so . . . something for everyone! I mean, I'm no Matthew McConaughey fan usually, but even I have to admit that he's pretty endearing with his charmingly twee glasses and white man's afro.
In short, 7 out of 10. Or B+. Whichever you prefer.
(I know that a 70% doesn't equate to a B+; I also don't care.)