Skip to main content

If Movie Criminals Faced Real Lawyers

They did the crime but not the time. Now these fly-the-coop criminals face their ultimate authority: the court of Total Film.

We've gathered together a genuine prosecution team to find out how easy it'd be to bang up the likes of Michael Myers, Hannibal Lecter and The Narrator from Fight Club.

So, allow us to introduce you to our lawyers...

The Defense: Elys Christou

Christou was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 2004, having trained at the Inns Of Court School of Law. She is now in independent practice in London, specialising in both privately and publicly funded criminal defence work.

Favourite movie laywer: Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci) from My Cousin Vinny (1992).

The Prosecution: Alexandra Ward

Ward is a criminal barrister practising from 9-12 Bell Yard; she prosecutes for the CPS, SFO and HM Revenue And Customs.

She also defends and specialises in representing those charged with sexual offences.

Favourite movie lawyer: Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) from To Kill A Mockingbird (1962).

Psychiatrist: Dr Rachel Andrew

Andrew is a clinical psychologist in the NHS and private practice in Lancashire.

Without further adieu, please be seated. Court is now in session...

Keyser Söze (Kevin Spacey) in The Usual Suspects (1995)

Rap Sheet: Mass murder. organised crime, being a total gobshite.

Getaway: Fools the Feds, then - like that (whoosh) - he's gone...

Psych Report: "Although the rape of Söze's wife, and the murder of his child, could have caused an extreme trauma response, this alone could not account for a carefully executed massacre and its elaborate cover up."

Prosecution: "Immunity obtained under false pretenses can sometimes be withdrawn. We'd seek informants to give evidence anonymously from behind a screen with voice distortion. Even without a successful prosecution it might frustrate further criminal enterprise."

Defence: "We'd run an ID defence and get the FBI's artist's impression of him excluded for unreliability. He's been granted immunity under his Verbal Kint ID, so the prosecution has to prove Kint is Söze. If they can't, and no informants emerge, there's no case."

Verdict: Not guilty - the greatest trick this particular devil pulled was convincing the world not to testify.

Next: Zodiac's Zodiac Killer [page-break]

Zodiac Killer (John Carroll Lynch?) in Zodiac (2007)

Rap Sheet: Multiple murders and attempted murders, threatening letters/phone calls.

Getaway: Death. The main suspect in the case carked it in 1992.

Psych Report: "The encrypted letters and phone calls, as well as the murders, suggest a fantasy-style grandiose sense of self-importance. These behaviours would be consistent with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Prosecution: "I wouldn't worry about the letters, who's to say he's doing this alone? He's likely to give something away during the police interviews. We'd track his telephone calls and build a picture of where he was during the crimes. Circulating his image might make other witnesses come forward."

Defence: "I'd get a defence expert to analyse the DNA on the letters to prove it doesn't match the defendant's. Then the only evidence is a mugshot ID from years later. This is so unreliable we'd get the case dismissed."

Verdict: The suspect is found not gulity but it's small recompense for a damaged reputation - or indeed being dead.

Next: The Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal Lecter [page-break]

Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Rap Sheet: Muder, cannibalism, threatening phone calls, perverting the course of justice (and everyone around him).

Getaway: A stolen identity/ambulance/face.

Psych Report: "Being forced to watch his sister being eaten could have led to Lecter's Dissocial/Antisocial Personality Disorder. He is a psychopath - narcissistic, superficially charming, remorseless and likely to be held indefinitely within a secure mental health setting."

Prosecution: "We'd present it in the same way he's committed his crimes, very clinically, with just the hard facts. It's not disputed that this chain of events occured, there's plenty of 'live' evidence from the FBI and he clearly has the mental capacity and previous to match."

Defence: "He doesn't attempt to conceal his guilt, so his only chance is to be assessed as being unfit to stand trial through insanity. Because he's so bright, this is unlikely."

Verdict: He's crazy. Granted an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), the not-so-good doctor returns to his subterranean cell...forever. Until he escapes.

Next: No Country For Old Men's Anton Chigurh [page-break]

Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) in No Country For Old Men (2007)

Rap Sheet: Cattle gun contract killings aplenty, fleeing the scene of an accident.

Getaway: Bribes two mini witnesses then staggers off into myth.

Psych Report: "Chigurh demomstrates a callous lack of concern for the feelings of others and a low tolerance for frustration. Most notably though he rationalises his on behaviour and blames others for their own fate: criteria for Dissocial/Antisocial Personality Disorder."

Prosecution: "His strangling the deputy in the police station would be on CCTV so we're home and dry. The rest of his crimes are so extreme there would be forensic evidence and witnesses - plenty of objective, impartial evidence."

Defence: "He doesn't have a defence. He kills for commercial gain, rather than compulsion and that aggravates things. If he were to plead guilty he could turn Queen's evidence on his employers in exchange for a sentence reduction, from death to life."

Verdict: After a Texan coin toss (heads you're dead, tails, er, you're dead), the suspect is executed for crimes against humanity and hair.

Next: Basic Instinct's Catherine Tramell [page-break]

Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) in Basic Instinct (1992)

Rap Sheet: suspected murder of parents/boyfriends/cops, fucking while on coke, indecent exposure.

Getaway: Last seen atop Mount Douglas reaching for her trusty icepick...

Psych Report: "Diagnosis of Risk Addiction aside, Tramell is a rare case, a woman meeting criteria for Dissocial/Antisocial/Psychopathic Personality Disorder, as well as Disorder of Sexual Preference (arousal involving an icepick) and Substance Misuse."

Prosecution: "A lot of it is inference, where there's no direct evidence, but the surrounding circumstances point directly to her. The icepick is 'similar fact' evidence - where the crimes have been committed in a distinctive way that discounts coincidence. Wouldn't bother with the flashing, it's a cheap shot."

Defence: "We'd contest all the evidence, owning an icepick doesn't make you a murderer, nor does writing books about murders. The flashing? She'd get off with a caution.

Verdict: Not guilty. Throwing that caution, characteristically to the wind, the suspect flashes the jury and, ahem, gets off again.

Next: Funny Game's Peter and Paul [page-break]

Peter (Frank Giering) and Paul (Arno Frisch) in Funny Games (1997)

Rap Sheet: Kidnap, torture, multiple motiveless murders in the name of movie metaphor.

Getaway: After finishing off an innocent family, they go a-knocking next door.

Psych Report: "Both would attract a Socialised Conduct Disorder diagnosis and Peter may also have a learning difficulty. Neither diagnosis would keep them from a Young Offenders Institute, as a significant proportion of young offenders fit both categories."

Prosecution: "I would expect these two to brag so you'd end up with some form of confession. They'd probably turn against each other and run cut-throat defences. We'd use one to convict the other and vice-versa."

Defence: "The prosecution would have to prove that they were there, so a lot would depend on eye witnesses and security footage. Peter could only claim duress if Paul held a gun to his head and made him do it, but it's very difficult to win."

Verdict: Having enjoyed the court's critical reappraisal of their work, the pair sit in smirking silence as they are declared unanimously guilty.

Next: The Talented Mr Ripley's Tom Ripley [page-break]

Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) in The Talented Mr Ripley (1999)

Rap Sheet: Murder, fraud, forgery, homosexuality.

Getaway: Strangles a witness, sobbing, on the slow boat to freedom.

Psych Report: "In the 1950s homosexuality would have been considered a disorder and Ripley's persistent lying and stealing, inability to maintain relationships and general disregard for social rules, obligations and norms are all criteria for Dissocial/Antisocial/Psychopathic Personality Disorder."

Prosecution: "I'd go back and trace his movements to present a really accurate picture to the jury of what he's done. The amout of decit involved is really useful. It's so calculated it hurts any defence in relation to accidental death or self-defence."

Defence: "Yeah, he's screwed. There's so much premeditation, the evidence is overwhelming, plus he's got form for lying and fraud, which undermines his credibilty. Back then, homosexuality was still a crime too. He'd be convicted in a second."

Verdict: A '50s kangaroo court sees this sad-sack chameleon's true colours and sentences him to be hanged.

Next: Fight Club's The Narrator [page-break]

The Narrator (Edward Norton) in Fight Club (1999)

Rap Sheet: Terrorism, illegal boxing, vandalism, pornography, breaching food hygiene regulations.

Getaway: Blows the financial quarter - and his alter ego - to kingdom come.

Psych Report: "The contentious diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder / Multiple Personality Disorder, brought on by high levels of emotional conflict and psychological stress, could explain the emergence of a seperate personality as an extreme coping mechanism."

Prosecution: "It'd be conspiracy to cause GBH just for spectating at Fight Club. The corporate art vandalism is criminal damage. Beating himself up is a public order offence. There' be evidence of plotting related to the bombings. It's a catalogue of very public criminality."

Defence: "There are so many witnesses, I would advise him to plead guilty. Mabe the psychiatrist would conclude that he's not in control of his actions, but you can't argue insanity for grand-scale terrorism. It involves quite a lot of planning."

Verdict: No contest. Life in jail should teach him the meaning of real man angst, but he's advised not to eat the food.

Next: Halloween's Michael Myers [page-break]

Michael Myers (Tony Moran) in Halloween (1978)

Rap Sheet: Sororicide (aged six), mass murder, GTA, stealing a Shatner mask.

Getaway: After plummeting off a balcony, The Shape escapes.

Psych Report: "Murder at the age of six would lead to psychiatric assessment and in this case a Conduct Disorder diagnosis. The development of an Antisocial/Dissocial Personality Disorder in adult life, alongside high level of risk to the public, would lead to indefinite detention under the Mental Health act."

Prosecution: "You could rely on the early killing and his medical history in relation to his later crimes, but without forensic evidence it's hard. Often the local nutter gets accused, but when it's analysed there isn't any compelling evidence."

Defence: "Six is below the age of criminal responsiblity so he can plead 'doli incapax'. For the rest, an ID defence is the obvious route because of the mask, but his doctor would be a compelling witness. This one's a plea."

Verdict: It's life in the loony bin for this most fruitsome of loops - no sequels or remakes! Yay!

Agree with the official verdicts? Who would you put on trial? Let us know below!

Like This? Then try...

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter here .

Follow us on Twitter here .