‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ is worth watching, but it’s not an open-and-shut case


“The Trial of the Chicago 7” feels timely in an at-times jolting way, with images of chaos in the streets and angry crowds chanting “The whole world is watching.” At its core, though, writer-director Aaron Sorkin takes the “trial” part to heart, leading to a largely courtroom-bound affair that — while entertaining and splendidly cast — at its best echoes his early triumph with “A Few Good Men.”

The film (hitting Netflix after a few weeks of theatrical availability) certainly attracted a dazzling cast, portraying the antiwar activists who the Nixon administration — and especially Attorney General John Mitchell — wanted to make an example of, charging them in a wild, widely publicized trial that dragged on for months.
The case grew out of unrest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, as police cracked down on protesters led by Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (“Succession’s” Jeremy Strong), among others. Also on trial, for political reasons, was Black Panther Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who kept objecting to his inclusion with the others and at one point was gagged to silence his outbursts.

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