Stars: Sean Connery, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Capshaw, Ed Harris. Directed by Arne Glimcher. Rated R for violence, profanity.

"Just Cause" starts out with a bang and ends with a whimper. The bang is an engrossing mystery surrounding the death of a young girl in the deep south. The whimper is the uninspired plot twist which, at the half-way point, turns the film into a knee-jerk suspense flick.

Sean Connery plays a retired lawyer who has spent the past 25 years teaching at universities. Convinced by his wife (played by Kate Capshaw) to take on the appeal filed by an inmate on death row, he journey's to a small southern town to collect evidence. All signs point to a botched investigation and a coerced confession, both instigated by a tough, possibly malicious, police officer (Laurence Fishburne). There are even subtle indications that the officer himself may be responsible for the crime.

The evidence eventually points to a fellow death row inmate (Ed Harris) who has killed many young women and loves to torment his victim's relatives with descriptive letters. It is he that Connery must entice into putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Of course, the puzzle Connery is working on and the one Harris is working on may not be one in the same.

Owing a huge debt to "Silence of the Lambs", "Just Cause" is at its best when Connery is doing the gritty work of the investigation or interviewing Ed Harris as the Hannibal Lecter- ish serial killer. But the film switches gears just as it gets good, much to its detriment. In the suspense department, it doesn't rank too highly.

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