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Thursday, September 01, 2016

HIgh Crimes

High Crimes is the kind of movie that successfully kills off a couple of hours with crisp acting and production values, the reliable and reassuring presence of Morgan Freeman, and a twist that I'm embarrassed to say I didn't see coming. But it also raises some questions.

First, what was the reason that Ashley Judd decided to make a career out of disposable thrillers? After she made Heat in 1995, I thought she would one day win an Oscar. Since then she has made nothing that would suggest an Oscar nomination. Second, I'm sad about the fate of Carl Franklin. After he made Devil in a Blue Dress (also in 1995) I thought he had the makings of an A-list director, which would have been important since he's an African American. Since then he's made only one film of import, One True Thing, and mostly TV. Somebody give this guy a major project, stat.

Franklin handles High Crimes, a potboiler legal drama, with competence, and Judd plays a lawyer with the kind of determination you see in a Lifetime film. In fact, this whole enterprise really should have made for TV. I was fine with it on DVD, but I can't imagine enjoying it in a theater, while walking to my car and wondering why I just spent money on it.

Judd is married to Jim Caviezel, who is arrested by the FBI. He turns out to be a fugitive, wanted for a war crime--massacring civilians in El Salvador. He says he's innocent, and even though his entire life, as far as Judd is concerned, is a lie, she defends him, with the help of Freeman, who's one of those wily geniuses who are semi-retired and sits around watching old movies. It's a military court, which operates by different rules, so I have no idea if any of the legal niceties are true, but they seem so. But I wouldn't imagine the DOD had any approval of this film, as it makes the Armed Forces seem like the Mafia.

Freeman, who can do these parts in his sleep, is terrific, but when is he not? Adam Scott (later of Parks and Recreation) is another lawyer, and looks about twelve, and a young Michael Shannon makes a cameo as a potential witness.

With all the screaming of diversity in Hollywood, it's really criminal that Franklin hasn't made a feature film that anybody paid attention to in over ten years.

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