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High Crimes
2002 - PG-13 - 115 Mins.
Director: Carl Franklin
Producer: Jesse Beaton, Naomi Despres
Written By: Yuri Zeltser, Grace Cary Bickley
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Jim Caviezel, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet
Review by: Joe Rickey
Complex and involving films can be a really good thing. Films like Memento and The Usual Suspects are gems in a sea of generic mediocrity. Familiarity can also be a good thing in films. The general public seems to go along with both sentiments equally. Memento pushed past its indie credibility to become a commercial success and films like Double Jeopardy and Along Came A Spider both became blockbusters despite their “Been there, done that” feel. Coincidently, the two latter films have a star that now team up in another generic thriller. I am talking about Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman appearing together in the courtroom thriller High Crimes.

Claire and Tom Kubik (Ashley Judd and Jim Caviezel) have a nice marriage and good careers and all they want to do is have a baby to complete their perfect lives. Then their lives are turned upside down when the US military comes into their lives and whisks Tom away for a military crime in which he allegedly murdered innocent civilians while on an overseas mission in El Salvador. Also, his name isn’t really Tom. That was the new name for a man named Ron Chapman. All this new information comes as a surprise to Claire. The military is going to try Ron/Tom for murder and they have appointed an inexperienced lawyer Terry Embry (Adam Scott). Claire isn’t very happy about this so she decides to become one of his co-counsels along with Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman), a wily and alcoholic lawyer. They have to prove that the military is covering for another higher-up that they can’t afford to lose to prison. Can they prove Ron’s innocence before its too late?

Cary Bickley and Yuri Zeltser inscribed the script for this thriller based on the novel by Joseph Finder. Their script is full of twists, turns and subplots. There’s the subplot about Claire’s rambunctious sister, Claire’s problems conceiving a baby, and more. As you can imagine, the film can get quite confusing with so much going on. Some of the subplots are superfluous which is a problem. This is one film where you can’t go to the restroom too often.

The acting is above average. Ashley Judd performs well enough but doesn’t really standout as Claire. Adam Scott is appropriately wet behind the ears earnest. As Claire’s sister, Amanda Peet plays her thin role flawlessly. All other actors in this film cannot hold a candle to the perfectly played role by Morgan Freeman. He mixes humor and serious material with panache and utmost skill.

Carl Franklin’s direction is effective. He stages the action sequences with the skill only a veteran director has. He also manages to get the most out of his actors. Theo Van de Sande’s cinematography is very effective in setting the tense mood prevalent throughout the film.

Overall, High Crimes is a sometimes confusing but enjoyably fun performances by the leads makes it a film worth your time and money.

Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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