High Crimes

| April 10, 2002

Weak plot points, while they don’t always ruin a movie, tend to distract me from what otherwise could be a very good flick. I’ll use High Crimes, director Carl Franklin’s (One True Thing) new film, as an example for the class. We open with our heroine Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) in court, outfoxing her opponent and gaining her high-profile client a new trial. When she returns to the office, everyone is abuzz with the rising star’s victory. Her boss even insinuates that a partnership is imminent. All is joyful in Whoville.
Let’s fast-forward a few days. Kubik’s husband is arrested by the military for a 12-year-old murder and other crimes stemming from a clandestine operation in Central America. All of a sudden, the law firm is scared of the bad publicity this could generate and Judd’s job is in jeopardy as she takes control of his defense. It’s an immediate case of “what have you done for me lately.” This recurring theme popped up several times during the film and each time it just seemed odd that this high-power law firm wouldn’t be champing at the bit for MORE publicity and that they would support their fair-haired woman.
This is the first few minutes of High Crimes, as Tom Kubik (James Caviezel from Pay It Forward, The Count of Monte Cristo, Frequency) is taken into custody and we find out, among other things, that he created a whole new identity between deserting from the Marine Corps and meeting Claire.
What else hasn’t James told Claire? Is their really a high-level military cover-up in place? Could there be more than one bad guy involved? What has been happening to all those prosecution witnesses? Have we seen this plot in other movies? That is the mystery of High Crimes.
The rest of Kubik’s defense team is Morgan Freeman, an ex-military lawyer who is an alcoholic with an ax to grind, Adam Scott, a low-level military public defender who has never won a case, and Amanda Peet, Clair’s flighty ne’er-do-well sister. Offset this against the full weight of the military legal department’s A-team. And, it seems, a black ops team working behind the scenes as well.
Judd, Freeman (Along Came A Spider, Amistad), Scott (Party of 5), and Peet (Saving Silverman, The Whole 9 Yards) are wonderful as the good guys. The bad guys are equally good, while not going over the top. Bruce Davison (X-Men, Crazy/Beautiful) is the General who knows more than he is saying and Juan Carlos Hernandez (Oz) is his evil henchman.
So now it comes to recommendation time. I liked High Crimes. It’s a good movie. You get to see Amanda Peet in her G-string a couple of times and Freeman and Judd are as good together in this movie as they were in Kiss The Girls. But I spent $25 on tickets, ‘corn and Diet Coke and think you would be better off waiting for the rental.

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