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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
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Reviews & Ratings for
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt More at IMDbPro »

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A Mixed Bag

5/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
31 December 2009

There are so many questions raised by this film that it is difficult to review it. The original screenplay by Douglas Morrow (1956) has been 'updated' by writer/director Peter Hyams, and while the concept of the plot is a strong one, it requires rather savvy actors to make it work. Aside from Michael Douglas as the DA of questionable ethics and court proceedings, the rest of the cast is a rather ill-prepared group of nascent actors in need of more experience than in the fluff films from which they came.

C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) enters the Shreveport scene complete with a prize for reporting, eager to make it big and earn a Pulitzer: he seems to have an equal obsession with chasing young pretty women and finds one in the person of Ella Crystal (Amber Tamblyn) who happens to be the assistant to the DA. Nicholas, and his entertaining co-worker Corey (Joel David Moore), are on to something - they believe that the DA tampers with forensic evidence to win cases, focusing on phony DNA samples rather than thorough investigation. Out to debunk the DA, Nicholas plans to plant evidence at a crime scene, a stunt he will later use to expose the wannabe Governor DA, and in order to make this work, he places himself as the 'evidential perpetrator' of a crime. He manages to draw Ella into his circle of lust as well as his overall plan to unseat the DA. Things change and the ending could have been surprising in the hands of better actors.

The film is heavily padded with the requisite car chases and explosions and derring-do of the good cop/bad cop type, but the real problem with the movie is the weak presence of Metcalfe and Tamblyn. If the viewer can tolerate the confusing aspects of mixing high humor in the first part with the supposed suspense in the second, then the film is worth the entertainment. It could have been a stronger film with a cast of professionals.

Grady Harp

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21 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Thankyou Michael Douglas

4/10
Author: eoinej from United Kingdom
16 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fantastic story and plot, pathetic acting. What could have been was not and for me this just about achieves a TV afternoon thriller rating. Saved only by a sterling performance by Michael Douglas in portraying someone who could have counted Gordon Gecko as a friend.

Sadly, Michael's efforts only serve to highlight lame attempts at action, drama and humor from the rest of the cast as they blunder through a great story, sorely wasted, even trivialized in places. And somehow, even the settings seem low budget and artificial although they obviously are not. Much blame must lie with the director, but the unconvincing portrayals of the other main characters must be due to the cast as well. Watch out for a tired late night policeman and an older, female bank official for some great lesser cameos however.

The story is so good that I would gladly watch another remake although this version is in itself a "spoiler". Let the French do it next time!! Watch this movie, but don't pay.

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34 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Unconvincing and full of clichés

3/10
Author: Ulf Andersson from Sweden
23 November 2009

A very unconvincing cast, including Douglas, delivers an extremely implausible story packed with clichés, with poor cinematography and old-fashioned music. I am usually OK with implausible stories and the original movie is probably good... but for heaven's sake, if you are going to do a remake, at least try to make it feel like the 21st century. The only thing the movie had going for it was a fairly good dialog (probably derived from the original manuscript to Fritz Langs original from 1956), but the lead actor and actress did a pretty poor job delivering them. I almost feel sorry for Douglas, remembering him in excellent movies like Fatal Attraction, Traffic and Falling Down, having to tarnish his good name with movies like this. I cannot for the life of me understand why he agreed to participate in such a B movie. Maybe he needed money (?) or maybe he cannot bear not being in the spotlight, but even so, he should try to make a reasonable effort. This was not up to his usual standards.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A Disappointing Joke

1/10
Author: rskjc from United States
9 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Really--I would be embarrassed to be associated with this movie! I was initially intrigued by the basic plot, but as the movie unfolded I found myself groaning over the poor dialog, disconnected character personalities and unconvincing acting. The premise of the movie was so good, but the details and execution, oh so poor. The soundtrack was laughable as the key subject in the film went from store to store finding the "evidence" that was to be used against him in court. The ending was painful to watch. The dramatic "twist" of the plot at the end was so ill conceived it came across not as an "ah-ha" moment, but a "you've got to be kidding me" moment. The overly dramatic "F-You" at the end was probably the worst ending moment of a film I've ever seen. Save the one dollar you'll spend at Redbox.

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17 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Beyond a reasonable script (or acting, or directing)

1/10
Author: LeCaptain from United Kingdom
17 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As many users have indicated before, this is not a good film. I would even go further: this is a disaster of a wanna-be-thriller.

Michael Douglas stars in a supporting role and only appears in the few courtroom scenes and two other short sequences - I'd be surprised if his shooting time went beyond two days of (really not convincing) work. The lead role has, indeed, that soap opera guy - and as someone else has rightfully mentioned, it is hard to believe no producer vetoed such a miscast: any scene he is in is unintentionally funny (while at the same time you'll start wondering early on whether this bizarre scenario is worth two hours of your lifetime).

I have no idea why anyone would call this a decent script, since this is where the whole shambles begins: it is badly written, doesn't make much sense on many occasions (including the - and this is no spoiler - "twist"), any attempt of being funny goes embarrassingly wrong, the dialogues are flat and uninspired, it's as suspenseful as opening your fridge, and beyond that: it is utterly predictable.

The directing is equally disastrous: some of the car chasing scenes remind you of 'Simon & Simon' and other unnecessary trips down Memory Lane of 1980s low-budget television. And the list goes on and on...

If I hadn't checked out this reference page on IMDb I would have thought this to be the debut work of a producer's son, possibly made for TV. It is just unbelievably bad. Don't go there.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating failure--great idea, poor execution, it's that simple.

Author: secondtake from United States
26 July 2011

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

Michael Douglas is impeccable whenever he has a role with brutal power, with cunning, with speechmaking the cuts through the listener, with selfish focus. And he is all these things here.

But he is properly the third name on the credits, and the two leads, both little known to me, are young and capable and unexceptional actors. With the three of them, there might have been a decent movie possible.

The hook here is an amazing, simple, audacious idea. A young reporter (Jesse Metcalf) is suspicious of a District Attorney (Douglas) who is faking evidence, so he sets himself up as the perp in a crime he didn't commit to trap the DA at his game. So it looks like a hero at work, an undercover reporter who is going to prove justice, Al Pacino style. And he has both a buddy (the not so handsome sidekick) and a girlfriend (Amber Tamblyn). The girlfriend, strategically, is on the staff of the DA.

But things go wrong. Very wrong. The DA is more ruthless than they realized. The girlfriend ends up taking over the investigation of her own boss, and ends up uncovering, with some improbability, some flaws in the reporter's character, too. The movie ends with a terrific (not) two word send off, probably meant to appeal to young people who have wanted to say those two words to lots of their boyfriends and girlfriends themselves. Or have.

Lots of crime thrillers have plots like this, good ones with twists that are calculated but great entertainment. This one is repeatedly hamstrung by bad writing, however. And this bad dialog is sometimes acted poorly, so that you almost groan out loud. It's especially painful because the plot is pretty intense if you give it a chance. In fact, sometimes it almost seems intentional the way a character acts a little flippant or silly, and yet it struck me as out of place. This might make it impossible to really get the depth of what was intended. Which is too bad. A remake done well would have the potential to really work.

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23 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Subpar thriller that looks straight out of the 80s...

3/10
Author: Siamois from Canada
8 December 2009

This movie is a remake but will be judged on its own merit, especially since I did not see the original.

On paper, things look good. You've got the seed of a promising story featuring several characters who could have been interesting, some courtroom drama which could have been intense, some plot twists which could have been shocking and a star lead actor in Michael Douglas who could have sold you this movie with his charisma.

But none of it ever happens. And much of the fault lies with Hyams' terribly outdated direction. While he used to direct somewhat interesting films several decades ago, Hyams has long since lost any edge he might have had and every weakness in his style which we readily forgave back in the 80s are now terribly grating when seen in a 2009 movie. The photography is downright boring, the music is cheesy, pacing and editing awful. Everything seems to come out of a made-for-TV or direct-to-video movie featuring Cheryl Ladd or some other has been.

Michael Douglas only has a few scenes and gives by far the best performance but that's not saying much in this present case, because everybody else is just terrible. Really awful. On top of that, several lines in the script are embarrassing, which makes the actors' job harder. Jesse Metcalfe and Amber Tamblyn are both the real co-leads of this flick and do absolutely nothing with their screen time. Orlando Jones is terribly miscast.

While the premise and basic sketch of the whole plot could have been interesting, neither the writers or the director made it believable. The twists along the way of the story might have been surprising for an average moviegoer in 1984. A quarter of a century later, even a lobotomized hamster will see it from a mile (provided you don't fall asleep before that).

There are so many negatives to this movie that usually it would be worth a 1. But I am raising it by one point for Michael Douglas giving a decent performance and by another point for the interesting seed of a story.

3/10 for the last movie by director Hyams I will ever watch

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Mediocre and disposable

5/10
Author: Argemaluco from Argentina
27 September 2010

The only thing which stood out for me in the mediocre film Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) was seeing the logo of the company RKO during the opening credits.Sure, it is a modernized digital version (I wish they had kept the "retro" look), but it was still nice to see that that legendary studio keeps being active (or maybe, a nostalgic investor simply bought the rights...I do not know).Unfortunately, that trivial detail was one of the best elements from this movie, because despite the main idea being slightly ingenious, the screenplay develops it on a boring and uninteresting way, at the same time the movie also has bad performances and bland direction from the mercenary Peter Hyams.

The screenplay from Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) discards any consistency, and it makes the characters to commit stupid mistakes which go against their character and the most basic common sense.We also feel the squeaks in the narrative gears when the screenplay tries to justify action scenes or moments of suspense in order to bring some life to the inert drama and also distract us from the multiple holes from the story.This film is the remake of a film which was directed in 1956 by the great Fritz Lang (1890-1976), and I suppose that many elements from the original film would feel anachronistic on a contemporary version, so Hyams (on his work as a screenwriter) faced the ungrateful homework of conciliating old concepts with modern technology.As a consequence, we have an erratic logic where the advanced digital analysis of a photograph is possible, but at the same time, the facility of duplicating the digital content of a DVD is ignored.So, the abundance of inconsistencies such as that one, hollow characters and hasty deductions are the main elements which make Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) to be mediocre, boring and disposable.

So, in conclusion I cannot recommend this movie.It may not be bad, but it is so mediocre and insipid that I feel I could have used the time I invested in watching it doing something more interesting.

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17 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

I liked the story

8/10
Author: BB-15
27 February 2010

Despite the almost unanimous negative reviews by viewers and professional critics, I liked "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt". Why? This movie is a combination of an old-fashioned mystery story combined with an indie film style.

I have been a longtime fan of old detective films and I also like modern low-budget independent movies like "Management" and "Little Miss Sunshine". This combination of styles; old-fashioned mystery and indie low-budget, didn't bother me.

I accepted that many of the actors were not the greatest around today, or that the lighting and sound was almost never polished and was often primitive. And that the music soundtrack was just adequate.

But what I very much enjoyed was the story itself. This is a great mystery plot which kept me guessing. And I like those kinds of stories.

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17 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Just plain stupid

2/10
Author: sergepesic from Minneapolis, USA
18 October 2010

This ridiculous movie represent all that is wrong with the Hollywood film industry. You take the plot line of a completely outdated 50's flick, set the story in whatever city's tourist board, gives you the best deal, hire couple of tepid and incredible uncharismatic young half-stars, add in a top billing a major star , little over the hill, and you have a movie. And what an atrocity of a movie this is. I have no intention of wasting my or anybody else's time, so I'll keep it very short.It all happens in Shreveport, LA, but except couple of minor parts nobody has a minute trace of a Southern accent. The shear stupidity of the main character makes you wont to choke him to death. The plot line has more holes than a sieve. Suspending your logic isn't enough, you have to suspend your brain to go through this garbage. Just plain stupid.

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