Acting, not Ending, Powers High Crimes
- Tuesday, March 05, 2002
High Crimes - PG-13
Best for: Mature audiences who enjoy military mysteries.
What it's about: Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) is a successful lawyer happily married to Tom (Jim Caviezel), a contractor with his own business. The two are trying to have their first baby when their lives are turned upside down. After a burglary attempt at their home, Tom is arrested and accused of committing a war crime 15 years earlier, during a covert military operative in El Salvador.
Claire is shocked at the allegations and by the news that her husband's real name is Ronald Chapman. When Tom/Ron assures Claire of his innocence, she steps in to defend her husband, hiring Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman) as Tom's attorney. Grimes, a reformed alcoholic, wants the chance to defend his reputation. Claire risks her career and her life to discover what the military is hiding. Amanda Peet plays Claire's sister.
The good: Judd and Freeman, who worked well together in Kiss the Girls, continue that onscreen chemistry in a story that once again involves them in a mysterious crime with deadly consequences. The Count of Monte Cristo turned me into a Caviezel fan, and High Crimes allows him to once again show his versatility and incredible acting ability. The plot is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.
The not-so-good: And that was the problem for me: the end. These days it's hard to come up with anything new or unique in a murder mystery. No matter how hard writers try, it's hard to watch a movie and not feel like you're seeing scenes and/or ideas from other movies. High Crimes needed a more unique ending. I wish I could discuss this in more detail, but I would be giving away the movie.
The movie has violence, language, drinking, a bar where skimpily dressed women dance, and a scene of innocent villagers being killed during a war.
Offensive language and behavior: Religious profanities and exclamations.
Sexual situations: A married couple is shown passionately kissing on a couch and beginning to make love, as they discuss the right time to "make a baby." A dance bar scene shows the bottom portion of scantily clad women, but no full nudity is shown. Another scene shows hookers in a hotel room trying to seduce a man until Charlie shows up, after which the group gets drunk together.
Violence: A character is beaten up, a car is run off the road and a life lost, a couple of men are shot and one is killed, a flashback shows villagers being shot and killed (including women and children).
Parental advisory: This adult murder mystery is too violent for kids, despite the "PG-13" rating.
Bottom line: I enjoyed this movie mainly because of the cast, but the story was also interesting and entertaining. I have to qualify my praise by saying that I was rewriting the ending in my head as I left the theater, wishing the filmmakers had gone for something more realistic and creative than a clichéd "Hollywood" ending.
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