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JOHN GRISHAM'S THE RAINMAKER A wonderfully quirky cast under Francis Ford Coppola's direction makes this one of the more enjoyable Grisham movies. The formula is pure David and Goliath: an idealistic young lawyer (Matt Damon) and his ambulance-chasing partner (Danny DeVito) do battle with a corrupt insurance company and its team of expensive lawyers. In a romantic subplot, our hero falls for a battered wife (Claire Danes). The outcome of both stories may be predictable, but the writing (Coppola did the adaptation) is sharp and funny, low-rent Memphis is pungently evoked and the scoundrels are irresistibly hissable. Among the best of a gravel-voiced lot are Mickey Rourke as a flamboyantly shady lawyer, Dean Stockwell as a tyrannical judge and Jon Voight as a sleek corporate attorney. The good guys are fun, as well: the naive but shrewd Damon; DeVito at his slob-pit-bull best; a droll Danny Glover as the presiding judge, and Mary Kay Place as the dirt-poor woman who instigates the lawsuit. It's good to have Coppola back in form; he's not taking any big risks here, but he serves up this crowd-pleaser with old-pro panache.

THE JACKAL Bruce Willis tries on a lot of wigs playing the chameleon-like assassin known as the Jackal. Richard Gere tries on an Irish accent as the imprisoned terrorist cajoled by the FBI into helping it track down this nefarious killer before the Jackal bumps off a government bigwig. (Gere, you see, is the only one who knows what makes the guy tick. Heard that one before?) Though both stars have had better days, it's not their fault that this loose remake of 1973's ""The Day of the Jackal'' is so unpardonably dull. Credit that to a script by Chuck Pfarrer that is at best generic and at worst nonsensical. Sidney Poitier as an FBI director and Diane Venora as a tough Russian cop do their best to liven things up, but the usually reliable director Michael Caton-Jones (""Scandal,'' ""This Boy's Life'') hasn't a clue how to freshen up such stale material. If you bite your fingernails, it will only be from boredom.

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