High Crimes

High Crimes


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A sense of deja vu is like the smell of dead roses. It's not that you've been here before, but you never asked to come here again.

High Crimes is a courtroom drama, a paranoid thriller, a David and Goliath rerun, a maverick alcoholic attorney's comeback, a love story, a South American village atrocity investigation.

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The surprises aren't, because a) you don't care, and b) you guessed it already. Whenever the plot turns into a cul-de-sac, a lucky coincidence pops up to redirect it. Also, Morgan Freeman has a dog.

Claire (Ashley Judd) is one of those San Franciscan lady lawyers who runs rings round pedestrian blokes in suits. When her husband Tom (Jim Caviezel) is arrested by the FBI and handed over to the army as a deserter, accused of murdering peasants in Colombia 15 years ago, she drops everything to defend him.

It turns out, he's not called Tom, but Ron. She thinks, "Hang on a minute, do I know this guy?" He passes a lie detector test, which makes her feel better, until a creepy Marine Corp shrink stops her in the supermarket and says he used to instruct Special Forces operatives on how to beat lie detectors. Oops!

All the army officers are nasties. They bend the law to benefit their case. Tom/Ron tells Claire that a one-eyed Mexican-American, who looks like an assassin for the drug cartels, did it. She believes him and enlists the help of Charlie Grimes (Freeman), a former military lawyer, now recovering from decades of booze abuse, whose methods are eccentric, if not entertaining.

Everyone is a cliche. Grimes rides a battered Harley. Claire has a dysfunctional sister (Amanda Peet). Tom/Ron is an all-American block of wood.

Always in these movies the defendant looks cooked, until a last minute witness shows up at the nick, spurred on by ingenious detective work. Why shouldn't it be different here? After all, the film follows the dots assiduously.

Judd is lively and real. She doesn't fake it. Freeman switches on the charm, as only he can, and gets away with not trying too hard. Caviezel has lost the star quality he demonstrated in The Thin Red Line and become a character actor. What if his character is a bit of a muddle?

Reviewed on: 24 Oct 2002
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The husband of successful San Fransican attorney is accused of murdering Colombian peasants.
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Director: Carl Franklin

Writer: Yuri Zeltser, Cary Bickley, based on the novel by Joseph Finder

Starring: Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Jim Caviezel, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Bruce Davison, Tom Bower, Juan Carlos Hernandez

Year: 2002

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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