The Pelican Brief is a 1993 American legal thriller film based on the 1992 novel by John Grisham. Directed by Alan J. Pakula, the film stars Julia Roberts in the role of young law student Darby Shaw and Denzel Washington as Washington Herald reporter Gray Grantham.
After an assassin named Khamel kills two Supreme Court justices, Jensen and Rosenberg, Tulane University law student Darby Shaw writes a legal brief detailing her theory on why they were killed. She gives the brief to her law professor/lover Thomas Callahan, who in turn gives a copy to his good friend Gavin Verheek, special counsel to the Director of the FBI. Soon after, a car bomb kills Callahan, but Darby manages to avoid the same fate, because Callahan refuses to give Darby the keys. Realizing that her brief was accurate, she goes into hiding and reaches out to Verheek for assistance.
An informant calling himself Garcia contacts Washington Herald reporter Gray Grantham with information about the assassinations, but suddenly disappears. Darby contacts Grantham, who verifies her information as accurate. Darby’s computer, disks, and files disappear from her home. She is attacked at a hotel where she’s hiding, but manages to escape the attack unharmed, but scared. She contacts and agrees to meet Verheek, but Khamel kills Verheek and impersonates him at the meet. Before Khamel can kill Darby, an unknown person shoots and kills him.
The film, which features music composed by James Horner, was the last film that featured Pakula as both writer and director before his death.