High Crimes (2002)
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Review Date: April 03, 2002
Director: Carl Franklin
Writer: Yuri Zeltser, Cary Bickley
Producers: Jesse B'Franklin, Arnon Milchan
Ashley Judd as Claire Kubik
Morgan Freeman as Charles Grimes
James Caviezel as Tom Kubik
A top-notch lawyer suddenly finds herself having to defend her own husband in a military court, for something he is charged with committing twelve years prior. To help him to her full capacity, she is joined by a rookie military lawyer and an older (and alcoholic?) attorney, who's taken part in these types of courtroom sessions before.
You gotta love those military cover-ups! A FEW GOOD MEN, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER...there are good movies based on this premise, and there are certainly bad films as well. This flick does the job, and can't really be described as either great or shoddy. It doesn't necessarily bring anything unique to the table, but thanks to some solid acting performances all around, a pretty interesting story and Ashley Judd's cuteness, it should entertain those who aren't "high-maintenance" in their movie expectations. The downside? Well, the ending was an "interesting" way to go, but without giving any of it away, I personally didn't "buy it", especially when I sat back and thought about it some more afterwards. In fact, it made almost no sense. But, I'm not going to condemn the entire picture just because the ending didn't work for me. On the whole, I was surprised by how engaged I was by the film, especially since most of the stuff that I was watching, had been seen before, had been done before and had actually been done to death. And that's where the credit goes to the actors and the director, who created enough suspenseful and enigmatic moments, for you to want to stick around. Ashley Judd looks as perky as ever here, but she's got some big shoes to fill. She's gotta play the doting wife, the sexy babe, the tough lawyer, the good sister and the conscience to a friend. She fills those shoes by crying really well during every other scene (hehehe), but ultimately, really does pull you into her character.

Freeman is also very good here, and for once, doesn't seem to be playing the same character that he has over the past few years (and yes, he doesn't wear that damn trenchcoat either!) He plays a down-and-out alcoholic dude whose best days are behind him. It's an interesting role and Freeman brings his solid acting chops to the forefront once again. And then there's Jim Caviezel...one of the more underrated actors of his generation. In a small but significant role, Caviezel has us appreciating his character's dilemma and rooting for his sorry ass all the way through. A surprising, but much welcomed, smaller part played by Adam Scott, was also a great addition, as the wet-behind-the-ears military attorney. His interplay with the lovely Amanda Peet was a bit of a distraction, but he played his part really well, and added something off-beat to the mix. Sure, the back-story about a pregnancy was overplayed, most of the stuff was predictable and does every one of these military court movies have to feature a scene in which the lawyers sit around a table and eat Chinese take-out? It sure feels like it. And as much as the ending didn't make a believer out of me, it did entertain me for what it was, and I guess that's the way anyone should go into this picture. Expect a decent military courtroom drama (although most of the film doesn't take place in court, so not many droning scenes of lawyers going back and forth) with some twists, some turns, predictability, solid performances from the actors and a conclusion that might not make much sense. Oh yeah, it was also nice to see some of director Franklin's style come into play with the cool, jazzy score. Nice touch, it's too bad that the film wasn't as good as his wholly impressive directorial debut, ONE FALSE MOVE.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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