Freeman, Judd justify
price of 'High Crimes'
High Crimes has the Hollywood stamp of
approval all over it as two stars are featured in a genre that does considerably
While most moviegoers may be reluctant
to think yet another celebrity duo will offer the slightest form of entertainment,
Crimes comes along and sort
of sways those ideas.
Photo courtesy of 20th Century
From left, Ashley Judd and
Morgan Freeman star in the new drama High Crimes, directed by Carl Franklin.
Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd's High
Crimes is the latest military courtroom drama that offers a few suspenseful
scenes that get a bit predictable
by the film's end. But so long as the
talented Freeman is there to keep us entertained, the movie stays decent.
It follows Judd's character, Claire Kubik,
a lawyer who just won a big case and is looking to start a family with
her husband, Tom (Jim Caviezel).
Trouble looms when he is suddenly arrested
for charges that stem from his military life, which ended a few years earlier
— he and his platoon went on
a covert mission and one of them killed
a handful of women and children in the heat of war.
As everyone in his platoon points to Tom,
Claire and her new law partner, Charlie (Freeman) — a recovering alcoholic
who gets kicks out of messing
with the military — set out to find the
Director Carl Franklin's work isn't all
that bad, but a few scenes could have been cut out or edited better to
make the film sharper.
A number of shots blatantly give clues
about where the film is leading. Just pay attention and the latter half
of the film won't be much of a surprise (but it
will still be entertaining).
Also, by the middle of the film, Freeman's
and Judd's characters have been knocked around so much by that darn military
that wants to keep the truth
under wraps that the black eyes and neck
braces become old news and almost humorous, instead of having any dramatic
These situations could have been tighter,
which would have made Crimes more suspenseful.
As for the film's writing, which is based
on Joseph Finder's novel of the same title, it could have also been cleaned
up a bit, but it's enough to get by.
This isn't the best courtroom story, either.
The premise is sketchy and it branches out into other plots to where the
finger-pointing begins and the red
herrings start to smell.
But if you can get by a few false endings,
the story will stay entertaining.
Audiences will be wondering until the end
whether Caviezel's character is lying to his better half or if he's being
sincere and really is being framed by
heads of the military to cover up the
It doesn't help matters that Caviezel has
that dry look about him that one can never tell whether he's a good or
bad guy in the few films he's done. His
acting in Crimes is exceptionally good
considering the film relies on Caviezel's performance the most when it
comes to keeping audiences guessing.
Judd does well with the role of the struggling
wife who can't decide who to believe, but insists on standing by her man.
With Someone Like You and this film to
her credit, her acting has clearly improved. Only next time, Judd had better
choose some different material
before audiences lose sympathy for her
Judd in the role of the strong woman who
gets pushed around isn't new to her, and if she takes on another such role,
her performances will start
coming off like one in a movie of the
Does Freeman ever grow tired of saving
films with his compelling and genuine acting style?
Just look at the films he did in 1989.
There's the civil war drama Glory, in which he played the elder slave aside
Denzel Washington, who put on an
award-winning performance. There's also
the unforgettable story about the ruthless yet devoted principal in Lean
on Me. And finally, he chauffeured
Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy, for
which he earned an Academy Award nomination.
Freeman didn't necessarily save the aforementioned
films, but to be a part of such memorable movies was a sign of things to
come for the actor.
Since then, Freeman has excelled at chewing
up the screen and improves a film's worth, regardless of who shares the
But the fact that Freeman continues to
settle for average material is frustrating since he can do more than hold
his own in better roles.
And without Freeman's supporting role in
Crimes, these performances and the writing and directing efforts would
have resulted in a mediocre movie.
Instead, the drama unfolds more decently
and delivers just enough to earn the price of the ticket.
*** (out of five stars)
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd
20th Century Fox