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Billy Bob Thornton,
High powered lawyer Claire Kubik finds her world turned upside down when her husband, who she thought was Tom Kubik, is arrested and is revealed to be Ron Chapman. Chapman is on trial for a murder of Latin American villagers while he was in the Marines. Claire soon learns that to navigate the military justice system, she'll need help from the somewhat unconventional Charlie Grimes; meanwhile, Claire's sister, Jackie, is falling in love with wet-behind-the-ears Lieutenant Embry assigned as the official defense lawyer. And most of the eyewitnesses have rather too conveniently died. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Carl Franklin's High Crimes, based upon Joseph Finder's novel of the same name, could just possibly be interesting if it didn't try so hard to do so. Instead of building a complex web of a storyline, the story instead reverts to reaching at the most impossible and improbable to further the intrigue, and thus lessens it instead. The film draws many parallels with Robert Zemeckis's What Lies Beneath, but lacks both the subtle art and spirited nature of that movie.
Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) is a high-profile lawyer who lives as part of an idyllic marriage. One day her husband Tom Kubik (James Cavizel) is arrested by the FBI for a war crime and a secret past-life of his begins to unravel. Suddenly Claire finds herself defending her husband in a military tribunal that she is not familiar with, along with the help of maverick Marine lawyer Charles Grimes (Morgan Freeman). As expected, everything that could ever possibly go wrong does go wrong, which gives the film an strange pacing in which every time one thinks that the movie is over, it isn't. The story goes to extremes to show how lopsided the odds are by bringing in conspiracies that reach up to Generals, by having the prosecutor be the Marines' top lawyer, by having the defense lawyer be an inexperienced loser, and yada yada.
The characters are all flat stereotypes, and ultimately we don't really care about any of them, from the ugly-as-a-dog mad Marine Major Hernandez (Juan Carlos Hernandez), to the seemingly prepubescent young Marine lawyer Lt. Terrence Embry (Adam Scott) assigned to defend Tom, to Claire herself, a caricature of the cool-headed modern female lawyer who, because of her inner-warmth, desperately wants to have a baby. Near the end the crudely typical vengeful South American character stands valiantly at a doorway, reversing his role from throughout the film, and you almost expect him to say que pasa?'
Dialogue in the movie is unoriginal and contrived, but is not poor enough that it stands out, and overall is utterly unremarkable, Ashley Judd exhibits an excellent performance in playing a confused, loving, strong woman, and in her skill highlights the lack of acting ability in James Cavizel, who is ill-matched with her. Morgan Freeman plays the same lovable outcast character we've often seen from him, and he does it well.
Theo van de Sande's photography, while neither innovative nor artistic, is wonderfully polished and alternately expresses claustrophobic terror through close shots or dizzying confusion through a twirling, dancing lens at the appropriate times. As is seen often in today's films, Sande uses the color blue very heavily, and also employs a shallow depth of focus.
The original score by Graeme Revell is professional enough, but is very generic and boring. In the movie, particularly in the beginning and end, the music awkwardly bounces back and forth between dramatic world music and R&B.
When the movie closes, the viewer has gained nothing, but has also lost nothing to this glossy but formulaic movie. Despite its faults, it is an entertaining ride, and the surprise ending (so necessary to complete the movie that it is half-predictable) will act as redemption in the eyes of those who would otherwise leave with a bad taste in their mouths.
`High Crimes' is rated PG-13. It contains blurry footage of corpses, conspirator's intimidating violence, humorous prostitutes, and adorable grandfatherly drunkenness.
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