Posted: 12/22/2009


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt


by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Michael Douglas gives a great performance as high-profile District Attorney Mark Hunter in a remake of the classic Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Hunter has an impeccable record putting criminals behind bars and is a shoo-in for governor in the upcoming election. But his prior convictions are up to scrutiny, because it’s believed that evidence tampering is the reason that Hunter has amassed such a great reputation.

A local newspaper reporter tries to prove that in nearly 20 cases, Hunter’s convictions wouldn’t hold water. In order to do this, however, the reporter must break a cardinal rule; he makes himself the subject of the news story by what at first seems like a fake murder. But the walls come tumbling down on the newspaper reporter, before they come tumbling down on Hunter.

Jesse Metcalfe and Amber Tamblyn also play in this thriller directed by Peter Hyams. Hunter is vying for the governor spot in Louisiana, as the story plays out in Shreveport, in this risky game of “cat and mouse.” Assistant D.A. Ella Crystal, played by Tamblyn, becomes involved with the rooky journalist named C.J. Nicholas, played by Metcalfe.

While Crystal is romantically linked to Nicholas, she’s unaware of his plan to expose her boss, even at great risk to himself. As mounting evidence stacks up against both men, Crystal’s own life becomes threatened when she discovers incriminating proof that puts the fate of both Nicholas’ innocence and Hunter’s reputation in her hands. Hunter is as ambitious in trying to track down Crystal and make his conviction against Nicholas stick as he’s been in his previous criminal convictions. He had the favor of the public, but soon even that turns sour. Crystal vows to help Nicholas all the way to the end, until she finds out that he’s not been totally truthful. Afterward, her own safety is at stake.

Orlando Jones plays a cop named Bill Nickerson, who had been friends with Nicholas and who helps Crystal out of the sticky situations toward the end of the movie.

I’m not familiar with the original Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that starred Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine, but the 2009 Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is a great thriller. I always enjoy watching Michael Douglas hone his craft.

The movie is available now on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz Media, LLC. For more information, visit

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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