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Movie Reviews

High Crimes  
Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd)
Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman)
Tom (James Caviezel)
Lt. Embry (Adam Scott)
Jackie (Amanda Peet)
Beig. Gen. Marks (Bruce Davison)
Directed by Carl Franklin
Written by Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley, based on the novel by Joseph Finder
Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman
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Running Time: 155 minutes Distributed by 20th Century Fox

High Crimes is a dull thriller that seems to be confused as to what it wants to be. Is it a court-room, military thriller? A who-dun-it thriller? A human nature thriller? Or is it all three?

The reason I raise this question is that there are so many points which are set up in the film, but not nearly all of them are follow through with. I also found the film full of clichés and predictability, which was downsizing to its great acting cast.

The plot is circled around attorney Claire Kubik (Judd) finding out who her husband (Caviezel) really is. Claire is first introduced as a happy wife that is also a very hardworking attorney. Out of the complete blue, her husband is arrested by the FBI. He is accused of murdering eight innocent people in El Salvador, while on a secret mission in the Marine Corps. Claire shockingly learns of the allegations and of her husband's previous life as marine, which was unknown to her. However, Claire is the film's hero and she takes up the case as her husband's attorney to prove his innocence. She teams up with a military lawyer named Charlie Grimes (Freeman), who is a recovering alcoholic and considers himself the "wildcard" of military courtrooms.

As the secrets begin to be revealed by Charlie and Claire, their lives are put into more and more danger. Many characters arise through the story to unveil the truth. However, the truth becomes not what any of the characters expected it to be.

Director Carl Franklin broke into Hollywood in the early 90's with his gritty thriller One False Move (1991). Since then he has done soft drama like One True Thing (1998) and more thrillers like Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) and High Crimes. I was honestly not very impressed with Franklin's visual techniques in High Crimes. He tries to make this tired scripted thriller unique by having many point-of-view shots along with cross panes and quick zoom-in camera techniques. In my opinion, some of his tricks just look overdone. I do admire Carl Franklin, but I didn't care much for his work in High Crimes, his vision just seemed to be missing something.

Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley wrote the script for the film which was based on the novel by Joseph Finder. The script lacks closure to so many holes and really doesn't have any type of flow to it. Like I said earlier, the film touches on being many different types of the thriller genre, but it hardly sticks with one until the end. The relationship between Charlie and Claire is the strength of the script, but there is a thirty minute gap where Claire's husband, the key character of the plot, is left off the screen. There are also too many annoying moments of Claire being followed by a mysterious being and it becomes almost expected about every ten minutes of the film.

Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd reteam in this thriller and deliver the goods. The two both worked together in the 1997 thriller Kiss the Girls, which is a film that I recommend over High Crimes. The duo has good chemistry and I think audiences should be treated to seeing them work together again in the future. In my opinion, Morgan Freeman is one the best actors around, and he captures the character of the former alcoholic lawyer Charlie Grimes with a recognizable diversity. Freeman has the best lines in the film and also provides some unexpected chuckles. Judd is just a terrific leading lady, though there are so many moments in High Crimes where she mirrors the strength of her character in Double Jeopardy. The wonderful Jim Caviezel takes a different turn as Claire's questionable husband. Caviezel is a pure presence and he continues to show his flexibility as an actor with his role in this film. High Crimes has a really good cast that is too talented to be in this murky film.

High Crimes is a thriller that wants to be too much and it becomes overdone with repetitive sequences and nearly predictable outcomes. The film has a great cast and partly good characters, but it is an overall flawed and flat film.

Report Card Grade: C-

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