Down deep in this film is a shiny key which was seen and admired and put back for the audience to discern. Glimcher’s style, always too close to the action for a clear view, actively prevents anyone from grasping it. In only one scene does he breathe freely, and that’s the cocktail party after the prisoner’s release. It follows James Newton Howard’s imitation of the phonybaloney “uplift” orchestral swell that is the hallmark of the hack, and pivots on a subtle joke featuring Chris Sarandon. The scene on the Florida patio is correctly filmed for ambience and light.
By now, the ending can be revealed. It depends on the relationship of the accused murderer and another death row inmate, a serial killer. The latter exonerates the former so as to obtain the death of his own parents. The former, upon being freed, wishes to exact revenge for his own castration at the hands of the authorities.
Such is the economy of the film.