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... See full summary »
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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 <email@example.com>
Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd (`Kiss the Girls') team up again in this courtroom thriller, which is entertaining despite its worn plot and obvious ending. The reason it doesn't descend to a level consistent with the screenplay's unoriginality is the superior acting by the three principal performers.
Claire (Ashley Judd) and Tom (James Caviezel) are living an idyllic and romantic married life, trying hard to have a baby. Everything is going swimmingly until one day Tom is arrested and charged with murder and war crimes dating back to his military service and raid in El Salvatore years earlier. It seems Tom's entire identity is a lie and his name is really Ron Chapman, a former Special Forces commando.
Claire, who is conveniently a prominent defense lawyer, takes up his case determined to prove he is innocent, choosing to believe his denials despite the fact that everything she knows about him is a fabrication. She hires Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman) to assist her because until he became a broken down alcoholic, he was once one of the top lawyers in the military.
The film is paced well and balanced between courtroom drama and other related storylines like constant death threats, a dirty general and a mystery man. It is fairly standard fare, but the presentation is engaging.
Morgan Freeman is such a terrific actor, that even a trite script can't keep him down. He is wily and insolent as the washed up lawyer with a few tricks left up his sleeve. Freeman projects an unassuming power in his work, full of dynamism yet highly amiable. His interaction with Judd is wonderful, treating her with avuncular kindness and intellectual respect.
Ashley Judd is a fine dramatic actor, who returns to serious drama after an ill advised detour into romantic comedy (`Someone Like You'). Judd is razor sharp in this film, coming across as bright, energetic and passionate. She is tough as nails and doesn't back down to pompous military officers or thugs trying to intimidate her.
Jim Caviezel rounds out the cast with a strong performance as the accused. This is a tough character because he is so mysterious and duplicitous. Caviezel delivered a strong portrayal of an enigmatic character in `Angel Eyes', so he had some experience with this type of role. He handles the part well, appearing utterly sincere whether his character is telling the truth or not.
Amanda Peet gives her standard performance as Claire's hair brained and sex obsessed sister. Peet is no serious dramatic talent, but she has this character down and comes across as believably ditzy and concerned about her sister despite their obvious sibling rivalry.
This film doesn't fool anyone with its surprise ending, but it does deliver good suspense, a tried and true formula and some excellent performances. I rated it a 7/10. It's worth a look for viewers who like mysteries.
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