For many years now, William Friedkin—macho director of The French Connection, The Exorcist, Cruising, and To Live and Die in L.A.—has been languishing in relative obscurity, and this well-crafted courtroom drama with a couple of strong early action sequences may be his first good chance to reinstate himself. Retired lawyer Tommy Lee Jones defends his old pal Samuel L. Jackson, a much-decorated marine officer court-martialed for ordering his troops to fire on civilians storming the U.S. embassy in Yemen. The movie could be described as a thinking person's version of “The Ballad of Lt. Calley.” It's a highly effective piece of right-wing propaganda, though the villain isn't a dove but a Washington bureaucrat, and Friedkin does a superb job of serving up the well-appointed script by James Webb and Stephen Gaghan. But in fact what we get is the illusion of thought, which is central to its ideological agenda. With Ben Kingsley and Anne Archer. 128 min.