Plot: What’s it about?
Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) is a beautiful, intelligent, and powerful lawyer, who thinks she has an almost perfect lifestyle. She has a sterling reputation in court, her business thrives, and she loves her husband Tom (Jim Caviezel) to no end. But her life is thrown into chaos when her husband is arrested, then revealed to be someone else, Ron Chapman. Chapman was a Marine, one who fifteen years before was involved in the slaughter of innocent Latin American villagers, during a covert operation. While Claire believes her husband is innocent, she has little knowledge of how the military justice system works, since she’s used to working within the civilian system. To assist her, she tracks down the gifted, but unconventional Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman), a former military lawyer who knows the system. The case remains an uphill struggle however, as behind the scenes complications arise, all while witnesses turn up dead, leaving Claire’s team with precious little evidence. Can Claire somehow manage to prove a cover-up and clear her husband’s name, or do the connections run too deep to allow that to happen?
As I’ve said before, it seems as though a new thriller arrives every second and to be honest, most fail to deliver. You’ll find some decent ones of course, but few good ones and even fewer great ones, to be sure. In High Crimes, we have a decent thriller with some terrific performances, ones that draw our attention away from the film’s flaws. That is important in a thriller, since they often resort to improbable twists and such, hoping we’re too caught up in the tension to notice, which isn’t often the case. High Crimes is able to keep us looking elsewhere, which means the plot holes aren’t too distracting, at least until you start thinking about the events after the end credits. The main reason we don’t notice is the presence of the two leads, the venerable Morgan Freeman and the beautiful Ashley Judd. I found the performances to be above average for a thriller of this kind, especially Judd’s, as she seems very into her role here. In the end, High Crimes turns out to be a decent rental candidate, but I think the twists are too predictable to warrant a purchase, since its doubtful this one is a movie you’ll revisit too often.
Although I think he turns in a fine effort in High Crimes, I do think its time for Morgan Freeman to wander out of suspense thrillers, at least for a while. He has been in a handful of them in recent years and while he’s solid in them all, it seems as though his character never changes, at least not much. The names are different of course, but Freeman almost treats them all as the same one, with little changes made between them. As such, his effort here seems on the recycled side, even though it stands as a good performance. So maybe some time off from the genre could allow him time to evolve his approach, which would enhance his next picture, without question. Other films with Freeman include Kiss the Girls, The Sum of All Fears, Under Suspicion, Seven, Chain Reaction, and Along Came a Spider. The cast also includes Ashley Judd (Heat, Double Jeopardy), James Caviezel (The Rock, Angel Eyes), Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards, Whipped), and Bruce Davison (X-Men, Dahmer).
Video: How does it look?
igh Crimes is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a great looking visual effort, especially for a mediocre catalog title release. The image is clear and clean, with good detail that really brings the visuals to life. I wouldn’t rank depth with the format’s best, but this still looks impressive. The colors look bright and natural, while contrast is stark and consistent. In the end, a great treatment that covers all the bases.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 option provides a more active experience than you might expect, as the surrounds are alive and well through most of the movie. You won’t have your windows rattled per se, but the surrounds do add to the atmosphere and that enhances the experience quite a bit. And in the instances where power is called for, this track delivers in more than solid doses. Even so, this won’t replace your current demo disc, by any means. No concerns with dialogue or music either, as both elements are well handled and free from errors. This disc also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Although the six featurettes make a good selling point on the back of the case, once you’ve seen them all, you won’t be too impressed. I am glad to have some behind the scenes material of course, but I’d rather have one lengthy featurette, as opposed to six brief ones and in this case, all six total just over thirty minutes in duration. So well worth a look, but not enough insight to get too excited about, not by any means. A better supplement is director Carl Franklin’s audio commentary track, in which he talks about his methods of direction. So if you want some behind the scenes gossip or humorous stories, you’re out of luck on this one, but it does offer some good insight into Franklin’s approach. The last extra found on this disc is the film’s theatrical trailer, which makes for a worthwhile addition.