Directed by Carl Franklin.
Written by Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley.
Starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 4/11/02
For the first time in what feels like years,
I saw a movie with more than one other person. In fact, when my
friends Melissa, Danielle, Andrew and Jascha all came with me to see
tonight's showing of "High Crimes", I felt like I was at a friggin'
Except, like the classic bad college party
that ran outta booze around 10:30, "High Crimes" was a pretty shitty
party. Where do I start? Ashley Judd (hot) and Morgan Freeman
(grandpa) reprise roles that they have played before, in better
films with better scripts, better co-stars and better endings. This
time, Judd is playing a lawyer that is pissed off, not just a
housewife or an girlfriend or an ex-wife. She is married to a man
(Jim Caviezel, "The Thin Red Line") that may or may not have killed
nine innocent Salvadorans in a conflict over ten years ago. When
this man is arrested in the streets of San Francisco, Judd's lawyer
must face a contingent of military court officials to save her
husband...but, she needs help from
THE BEST LAWYER EVER,
played by Freeman. In case you hadn't
already guessed, Freeman's character has a "rugged past", which
includes alcohol abuse and banging other officers' wives. And, as
you can probably imagine, Freeman must "overcome his problems" in
order to save Caviezel from his fate.
How formulaic is this film? Let's start
with where it is based--mostly in San Francisco and at a military
base somewhere in California. So, in the first ten minutes of the
film, director Carl Franklin does an excellent job of covering every
single touristy aspect of my current residence: shots of the Golden
Gate Bridge, Marin County, Union Square, trolleycars, and the wind
blowing. Now that I live here, and that I have seen three or four
films now that have been based here, I am amazed at how uncreative
Hollywood types are at covering areas not on postcards sent from
here. Even "The X-Files" got some shots in of places not called
Georgetown in their movie version of the TV show (set in DC); could
they get one shot of the Mission District or Candlestick Park in
"High Crimes"? One?
For my money, this movie might be the only
film in history to actually try and take a little smidgen from every
courtroom drama ever made. In fact, it will be noted here that
Danielle--just after the credits started to roll--tried desperately
to think of all the movies that were EXACTLY LIKE "High Crimes"; my
vote was the recent Sam Jackson drama
"Rules of Engagement", which
was a piece of shit as well. It features the surprise witness, the
attack on the good guys at the good guys' place of residence,
menacing-looking cars that drive by the good guys' residence, and of
course, the witness cover-up scene.
The one thing that this film does not
have--and, now that I think about it, this might have made "High
Crimes" respectable--is the Heroic Closing Argument. The best
Heroic Closing Argument I have ever seen is still also my favorite,
the Cruise/Nicholson standoff in "A Few Good Men." Every time that
movie is on TV, I'll watch it just to see that one scene. I read an
interview with director Rob Reiner once in some men's magazine, and
he was waxing poetic about how Nicholson did the scene 35 or 40
times in one day with the exact same intensity level each time.
Nothing in "High Crimes" even compares to "A
Few Good Men", though. The worst offense? Hard to say. It might
be Freeman's performance--the man stopped acting after starring in
"Clean and Sober", over ten years ago; he now just shows up on set
and asks the director, "What's the name of my good guy,
advice-spewing old partner character THIS time?" This
characterizes, with varying degrees of success, his roles in the
following films (I had to look them all up to be sure): "Glory",
"Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves", "Unforgiven", "The Shawshank
Redemption", "Se7en", "Chain Reaction", "Amistad",
and the upcoming
"The Sum of All Fears."
Or, maybe it's the shitty ending? The
horrific score? Amanda Peet, on a career heading straight to
video? Fat whores in spandex (not one, but two of them)? So many
choices, so little time! Judd and Caviezel are a nice couple to
look at...but, they can't save this mess.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard