on July 9, 2004
Joseph Finder's bestselling novel comes to life in this well-made, though somewhat predictable, thriller as a savvy and love-struck lawyer is pitted against the military and its covert actions. Ashley Judd plays Claire Kubik, a lawyer on the way to a partnership until her husband is arrested for a military crime he swears he didn't commit. To defend him, Claire must navigate military law and threats, getting in deeper and more dangerously with every half-truth she uncovers.
The plot has fewer holes than most thrillers, although most viewers will see the "twist" a mile away. And that a law firm would jettison one of its promising stars because her husband was arrested is preposterous. Wouldn't they help in the defense? Still, given the holes in most thrillers these days, these lapses are minor. The acting is solid, with Judd creating a gutsy, smart woman who is capable of both unfaltering love and fury. Morgan Freeman does a fine job with his thin material as a once-alcoholic lawyer who is "a thorn in the military's side." James Caveziel, as Claire's husband, is less complex; his pleading got on my nerves by the end. Supporting roles by Amanda Peet (Claire's floozy sister) and Adam Smith (a young military lawyer) are adequate, though not highly memorable.
The strength of this film is in the pacing and the seamless way in which it unfolds. The issues it raises about the United States's involvement in El Salvador provide an interesting, though not fully developed, frame. Highly enjoyable, though not perfect, this film is a good way to spend two hours with a bowl of popcorn at hand.
on May 29, 2004
There are so many things in this movie that just couldn't happen, starting with a wife and non-military lawyer, defending her husband, and the inconsistencies in the plot line. However, director Carl Franklin keeps the movie going so briskly and the cast is so good, that I overlooked these and found myself enjoying the movie very much.
Ashley Judd plays Claire Kubik, who discovers that her husband isn't who he says he is, and then has to confront her own doubts as she tries to save his life.
Morgan Freeman is the recovering alcoholic, former military attorney, who decides to help her out and keep off the juice.
Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ) is Ashley's husband and his performance is deeply moving, yet somehow dark and disturbing.
Bruce Davison's small role as the big shot general, is coldly efficient.
Amanda Peet plays Ashley's somewhat self-centered sister to the tee, and Adam Smith as Embrey, the green lawyer assigned to the case, also does well.
HIGH CRIMES pulls a twist at the end that's kind of "cheap" but it does work.
Joseph Finder, the author of the book on which this movie was based, gives some interesting commentary on the extras, and even has a featured role in the film.
Not a bad way to spend a couple hours.
on April 2, 2004
.....this movie was so ineptly and poorly done it was almost pathetic. Cliche-ridden script, wooden and unimaginative directing, and laughably contrived plot twists make this one a real zero. It's a real shame, too, because we don't nearly hear about this side of the military enough.
A capable cast does what it can with truly wretched material.
on November 28, 2003
This suspenseful drama starring Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman is really awesome! The surprising turn of events will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the performances are spectacular. Ashley Judd captures the intense emotion of her role exceptionally, and I think this should have been oscar-nominated. I also thought that Morgan Freeman was perfect for the role of the alchoholic lawyer. They are both excellent actors, and their chemistry is undeniable. This is a definete must-see!
on April 10, 2003
Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd team up again in this courtroom thriller, which engages the viewer 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, a prominent defense lawyer (how convenient), takes up his case determined to prove his innocence, 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 love story, courtroom spectacle, a ruthless general, are all "juggled" perfectly to combine into a complete story. Nonetheless we seem to have seen it in different ways many times before.
Morgan Freeman once again proves to be master over even weak scripts, letting his powerful performance overlook any production flaws. His interaction with Judd is wonderful, treating her with kindness and respect, never playing on the fact that he has much more professional experience.
Judd is tough as nails and doesn't back down to pompous military officers or thugs trying to intimidate her. Looks somewhat like Demi Moore in "A Few Good Men".
Jim Caviezel rounds out the cast with a strong performance as the accused. This is a tough character because he is such an enigma. Caviezel delivered a strong portrayal of a mysterious character in "Angel Eyes", so he had some experience with this type of role. The viewer is not sure to trust him, yet he appears to believe his lies/truth completely.
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 still recommend it to fans of the genre or to those who want to see the stars deliver yet more stellar performances.****
on April 9, 2003
"High Crimes" finds Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman reunited and they make a truly brilliant team. Judd plays a young lawyer whose husband finds himself taken down by FBI agents while out Christmas shopping in San Francisco. The crime? Murder.
He swears he didn't do it and Judd trusts him because she knows her own husband. Or does she? Judd finds herself on a marine base in southern California defending her husband on murder charges in a military courtroom. She finds that the laws are a little different when it comes to the military. She decides she needs to get an ace military lawyer who can help her to defend the man she loves.
In come Freeman who plays an ex-military lawyer who just happens to be a drunk. He's been clean and sober for quite a while but it doesn't take long for things to spin out of control in this story of deceit and suprise twists.
I'll be honest and say that I didn't see what happened in the last few minutes of the film coming. This film will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Both Judd and Freeman give brilliant performances as well as the suppporting actors and actresses including Amanda Peet as Judd's little sister.
on April 8, 2003
High Crimes is a drama, centered around the efforts of San Francisco based lawyer Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) to vindicate her ex-marine husband Tom (James Caviezel), who is charged with the murder of some villagers, while on a mission in El Salvador, twelve years previous. Husband Tom, (real name Ron) was a member of a small unit, sent to ferret out a terrorist. Though what actually happened is in dispute, the end result was nine dead civilians killed by Marine fire.
Charged with "high crimes", Tom is held for trial in a USMC base in San Lazaro, CA. His appointed counsel is green Marine lawyer, Lt. Embry (Adam Scott). Claire joins the defense team, but seeks someone with expertise in military procedures to bolster the team. Enter "wild card" Charlie Grimes, (Morgan Freeman) a civilian lawyer with past JAG experience. Together, along with Claire's sister, Jackie (Amanda Peet), the defense team works to uncover the "truth".
Freeman and Judd star in their second film together, having first worked together in 1998's "Kiss the Girls". And indeed, it is the interplay between the two that creates most of the interest in the story. However, this alone is not enough, and the illogical plot twists added to create excitement and maintain interest, produce a rather formulamatic tale, that ultimately leaves one disappointed. Freeman's performance is steady, but not special. Judd does an excellent job displaying a wide range of emotions. Yet neither can overcome the weakness of the story.
Director Carl Franklin's commentary track, provides a wealth of trivia, and too often he tends to speak of his other films and filmmaking in general rather than comment specifically on what we are seeing.
High Crimes is a film that is OK to see once. If the ending disappoints you, you probably won't give it a second viewing.
on February 15, 2003
There is such a thing as 'too many twists'.
Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) is a high-powered lawyer that is married to Tom Kubik/Ron Chapman (James Caviezel), a former Marine turned 'collector' (I think that's what he is; they don't ever really say). When some kids break into their house, the police take fingerprints and realize that Tom/Ron is actually a 'wanted' Marine because of his participation in the murders of some innocent peasants in El Salvador 10 some odd years before. So, after doing their Christmas shopping one evening, Tom/Ron is arrested by the FBI and sent to a military base to await trial for murder. Of course Claire decides she is going to defend him and picks up Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman) who has successfully defended a case against a military court before, as co-counsel.
With a bunch of twists and turns, Claire eventually gets Tom/Ron free only to find out that he really was the one that did it. In the end, Tom/Ron tries to kill her but with the help of one of the peasants that survived the attack (Emilio Rivera (I)), Tom/Ron is killed and Claire is free to set up shop with Charlie as attorneys.
In retrospect, this movie is pretty bad. I was sort of entertained by the movie when watching it, but was never really sucked into it and was able to predict every plot twist.
The major problem with the movie is that it is so contrived. What are the chances a defense lawyer is going to marry an ex-marine in hiding that is in need of an excellent defense lawyer? What are the chances that a peasant from that very village would live in the same city where all of this is taking place? The kids breaking into the house at the beginning of the movie makes no sense. And the biggest problem with the entire movie is the final twist when we find out that Tom/Ron did actually do it. When we find this out the entire movie falls apart. Why would the general dismiss the case? Why would the person that Tom/Ron said did do it, Maj. James Hernandez (Juan Carlos Hernández), act the way he did? It was just too forced to be a convincing and compelling story.
I should mention that Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman are good in this, but then they are good in most of the films they do. But even their decent acting can't overcome the poor story and plot. As for James Caviezel, I don't particularly care for him as an actor and even though he was not too bad, his performance in The Count of Monte Cristo was much better than this.
Overall, the movie was a let down, even though I did not have high expectations going into it. There are much better movies out there; this one is not worth your time.
on January 8, 2003
Disappointing courtroom thriller has an excellent Ashley Judd capitalizing on her success two years earlier in Double Jeopardy. She plays a successful attorney married to a really nice guy (Jim Caviezel) who has no particular occupation except to attempt to impregnate her in the mornings and then work in the toolshed for the rest of the day. She discovers that he actually has a past when the FBI take him into custody and accuse him of a war crime involving the murder of innocent El Salvadoran civilians that he supposedly committed when he was still a marine (and had a different name). Judd, completely perplexed and unsure of who's she even married to at this point, decides to go with her gut instinct anyway and appoints herself her husband's attorney along with the green novice (Adam Scott) they've already given him, and to make sure she fully can comprehend military law enlists the help of a wild-card washed up ex-alcoholic lawyer (Morgan Freeman, Judd's costar from the 1997 thriller Kiss The Girls). Despite the annoying setbacks (the lame subplot involving Amanda Peet as Judd's irresponsible younger sister, not to mention cloying scenes like Caviezel insisting he and his wife get it on in the lie-detector test room because *wink wink* no one's looking), the majority of the film's running plot is actually quite involving: twists and turns and incredible complications kept me riveted to the screen, desperate to find out how Judd would get herself and her family out of this incredible mess. Plus the film benefits from genuine chemistry between the lady heroine and Freeman, their characters written a slight cut above the usual Determined with a capital D freedom fighters you get in these kinds of films. Director Carl Franklin is obviously interested in making something more than just the average Hollywood thriller, something apparent from his more imaginative camera angles and editing techniques, but the film eventually takes an obvious turn in its third act that in itself reveals the film's climactic finale before it even happens, and you're left with an empty feeling like you've seen it all before. Or perhaps you had that feeling earlier when Judd got into the "you're in over your head" phase of the investigation where mysterious cars with tinted windows start driving really close to hers.
on December 6, 2002
I just finished watching this movie and an embarrassed to admit it.
This film is horribly written, and the directing is sub par.
With script filled with such draining dialogue, a director and actor together should filter the drivel out. This was not accomplished or even tried.
Yuri Zeltser, who churned out this garbage, needs to sit down and watch this movie. Hopefully he will see how painful it is to actual HEAR the words he wrote acted out. What looks great on paper, doesn't always turn out great when executed no matter how great the acting is. And the acting *IS* great!
I feel bad for the great Morgan Freeman, and the gorgeous Ashley Judd for being forced (and they had to have been forced) to spew this script line-from-line. I'm sure it's a hard thing to do, it's noticeable at times.
If These two, high price (deservedly so) actors weren't attached to this film, it wouldn't even be worthy of a 3AM HBO run.
And who is this Amanda Peet chick? Is she really necessary to this story at all?
She is the definition of wasted money.
But when you're wasting a few million on a poorly written script, what's a dollars more for something to look at.