Here is a story of miracles, wonders and a lot of tears - of both joy and sorrow. The sorrow part is to be expected when you consider that it is set in a penitentiary, a place where convicts on death row are held. 'The green mile' refers to the stretch of green linoleum that leads to the electric chair used for execution.
A 108-year-old Paul Edgecomb (Dabs Greer) narrates the story of his encounter with a genial giant during his tenure as the head guard of Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Tom Hanks plays the young Edgecomb. The arrival of John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), sentenced to die for the murder of two children, at first awes the prison guards. However, Coffey's demeanor completely belies the threat that his physique seems to hold out. It doesn't take too long for Edgecomb to discover Coffey's magical powers as the latter cures him of a disease.
But, all is not well in the E-block as an arrogant young guard, Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), is bent upon intimidating the prisoners over there with his theatrical antics. His claim to fame is that his aunt is the wife of the collector over there. He is dealt with towards the end.
All this while, John is busy 'helping' people, as he calls it. He breathes life into a dead rat, Mr. Jingles, a pet of another prisoner, Del (Michael Jeter). The final miracle that Coffey performs is curing Warden Moore's (James Cromwell) wife of a tumor. In the end, he is executed and leaves Edgecomb with the boon or bane, whichever way you see it, of a longer life than anyone he has known. It is something greater than mortality and shorter than immortality.
The film is exceptionally long with a running time of 3 hrs. 8 mts. Nevertheless, it keeps you interested for the duration with well-etched charecters and intriguing incidents. Frank Darabont, the director, cleverly keeps the question of Coffey's guilt unanswered till the end. Moreover, it is answered not through words but with Coffey making Edgemont privy to his powers.
Tom Hanks does a good job, as expected. But, how long will he go on playing such do-good charecters? He needs to reinvent himself in someway. Michael Clark Duncan carries a sobbing face and a pout throughout, and does appear really vulnerable at times. Doug Hutchison looks so much like Kevin Spacey, right down to the way he speaks. A good prospect.
Mr. Jingles keeps us amused with his play antics. Overall, the movie ranks a little too high on the sentiment scale. The execution scenes are really poignant as the film takes pains to get us acquauinted with the convicts in E-block. If that is allright with you, then don't hesitate to watch it.