There are few things that are so chilling in film as to watch a movie that is so completely lost in plotting that there can be no redemption. Almost every film has some bright spot, some point of interest. Unfortunately, the greatest honor I can bestow upon "Beyond A Reasonable Doubt" is that it is, without equal, perhaps the silliest movie I've watched in the last year. Peter Hyams, the director, is a workmanlike pro that's been around forever. More commercial than artistic, Hyams' spotty resume includes (of all things) Van Damme's best picture ("Timecop"), one of Schwarzenegger's worst ("End of Days") and one of my favorite good/bad movies "Capricorn One" (which despite some clunky acting, I could still watch endlessly). Reuniting his "The Star Chamber" lead, Michael Douglas, for this legal thriller probably seemed like a decent idea--but, oh, this one is painful.
When an ambitious reporter (Jesse Metcalf) discovers some irregularities in the many convictions of a high-power lawyer and gubernatorial candidate (Douglas)--he sees breaking a big scandal as a ticket to the big time. Concocting the most elaborately inane scheme ever to frame himself for murder, Metcalf is preposterously out of his depth. Even our greatest actor alive couldn't sell this ridiculous piece of nonsense and, needless to say, Metcalf isn't any more up to the task. This, however, being a tricky legal thriller--there are plenty of very obvious (I mean surprising, yes that's what I meant) revelations in store for the viewers. However, even knowing every twist well in advance STILL doesn't make the plot any more feasible.
Hyams and team are perhaps hoping we've never seen a real legal thriller. Someone must have thought that "Beyond A Reasonable Doubt" was a clever entertainment and perhaps one version of the script was. But devising a whole movie around "surprise" twists with no foundation isn't particularly clever--it's really just lazy. And, to top it off, if the "surprises" have no surprise factor--that just makes the whole experience practically insufferable. "Beyond A Reasonable Doubt" is an unimaginative and uber-silly retread of dozens of other, better stories. It's biggest sin, however, is to have the smarmy and loathsome Douglas (his trademark character, not he himself) and then to barely use him. I actually hated "Beyond A Reasonable Doubt." Even if it wasn't a great film, it could have been a pleasantly entertaining one. But suspension of disbelief aside, the screenplay was just too preposterous--I literally laughed out loud, but not in a good way. KGHarris, 12/10.