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Overall Rating
2.07

Awesome: 2.82%
Worth A Look: 5.63%
Just Average: 11.27%
Pretty Crappy56.34%
Sucks: 23.94%

4 reviews, 47 user ratings


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High Crimes
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by Erik Childress

"Rules Of Disengagement"
2 stars

Someone needs to have a long talk with Ashley Judd. First, have her take a look at her career page on the Internet Movie Database and show her the string of films she’s been in since 1998. Once she revives from the shock, tell her to pick up the phone and to call her single or double agent and fire him/her immediately. If she doesn’t see the problem, then she is the problem. Eye of the Beholder, Double Jeopardy, Where The Heart Is and Someone Like You all feature Judd in major roles and for a five-peat you can add High Crimes, which wallows in mediocrity two-thirds of the way before taking a headlong plunge into a visible laugh track.

Judd stars as Claire Kubik, a defense attorney on the verge of partnership who seems to specialize in getting her defendants off the hook due to rights violations. She wants to start a family and is happily married to Tom (Jim Caviezel), a former Marine whose past is about to come back to haunt him. On a lovely winter evening, the FBI decides to stage Tom’s arrest in the middle of the city as opposed to their secluded country home. The charges are for his suspected participation in a village massacre in El Salvador.

Claire decides to take on the case herself, especially after she sees Lt. Terrence Embry (Adam Scott), the inexperienced tadpole of an officer assigned to her husband, who originally went under the name of Ron Chapman. She’s warned about the differences between criminal and military courts and is recommended to seek out Charles Grimes (Morgan Freeman), a JAG core attorney and a former drunk which means it’s only a matter of time before he consumes his first drink in over 400 days.

What we’ve got so far is standard low-rent John Grisham with only Freeman representing the occasional shade of colorful characters found in his airline-reading prose. Conspiracy theories start to formulate and the conventional stakes are raised, thanks in part to Embry’s slow-read close-ups when the names of high-ranking officials are brought to the table. ("You mean the highest ranking military officers this world has ever known?”) Plus, why are characters surprised that they’re being trailed by large slow-moving vehicles when walking down the middle of the freakin’ street? A two-fingered handful of suspects are named, not to mention the vengeful Salvadorian (Emilio Rivera) running around threatening, stalking and punching people as Claire switches gears from trusting her hubby to questioning his words. (He was trained to beat that Polygraph test real good.)

Telegraph is likely the more appropriate word to describe High Crimes, since there isn’t a plot or character development that we haven’t seen before in countless “did he or didn’t he” courtroom mysteries. Occasionally a film will use a paint-by-numbers routine in order to sneak in some thoughts about the law, the military or whatever the subject at hand may be. Rules of Engagement, while not great, was at least far more interesting in that in gave us something to think about while its characters were forced to deal with missing evidence and cover-ups. A Few Good Men was also helped along in such a way with a solid cast, interesting characters and Aaron Sorkin’s punchy dialogue.

High Crimes has a solid cast, although someone really needs to explain to me the relevance of Amanda Peet as Claire’s irresponsible sister in what may prove to be the most pointless character of the year. The dialogue (other than a few Freeman zingers) is standard issue and the characters are far from interesting and not even that smart. Judd’s Claire is set up to be a rights defender for her clients, but when it comes to her own husband, all she seems interested in are what they’ve done with his clothes. She also must have gone to the same law school as her prisoner advocate in Double Jeopardy, who completely misinterpreted that titular legal term. When an incriminating audio tape is introduced into the court proceedings, neither Claire nor Grimes seem to understand why the judge won’t admit it, considering it was taken in secret and not by court order or a police investigation. (Claire should have said “Hey, I saw Morgan Freeman do it in that Bonfire of the Vanities movie.”)

Carl Franklin, where art thou? I pray this is the safe studio picture you HAD to do to get the next movie YOU wanted made. Looking at High Crimes, you wouldn’t be able to fathom that it’s by the same director who made One False Move, Devil in a Blue Dress and One True Thing. Falling into the same kind of flashy camera tricks as amateur music video-turned filmmakers isn’t his style. Neither is this kind of material, driven by plot rather than character right up to its Kiss the Girls-like climax, with one character able to carry on a perfectly good fistfight with a bullet hole straight through him. (Note to audiences – when a verdict is handed down, but the movie continues on with a character still investigating, don’t admit to me that you didn’t see what was coming next.) I’m willing to chalk this up as a momentary speedbump in a fine director’s career. Ashley Judd is another matter.

Her career is turning into roles of pseudo-feminists who try taking on or dissing the man before gussying up into an evening gown to threaten actors named Bruce at private parties. Since Bruce Greenwood must have been unavailable, this time the honor falls to Bruce Davison as Brig. General William Marks, who looks as if he realizes that he’s not getting paid as much as Jack Nicholson did in A Few Good Men and wants to exit the film as soon as possible.

Jim Caviezel has been playing mysterious for years. He was the mysterious homeless drug addict (Pay It Forward), the mysterious widowed stalker (Angel Eyes), and the mysterious revenge-seeking Count (very good in The Count of Monte Cristo). Now he’s the mysterious accused Marine and I want to clear something up for casting directors out there. THERE’S NOTHING MYSTERIOUS ABOUT THIS GUY!!! He constantly has a look on his face that seems to self-question whether or not he’s actually intaking oxygen to survive. Caviezel can’t even take a Fishburne-like cue by deciding on a first name credit. One movie he’s Jim, the next he’s James.

High Crimes has about all the interest of an USA network cable movie, which is about half that of the commercials that run in-between. If this movie were a book (and it was), I’d recommend skipping the hardcover and waiting for the paperback. Then when that comes out, I would skip that too and pick up a coloring book instead. That way you can fill in the blanks in an original way and it would be far more colorful. If A Few Good Men told us that we “can’t handle the truth” than High Crimes poetically states at one point in this movie that we “don’t care about the truth.”

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5835&reviewer=198
originally posted: 04/04/02 16:11:24
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User Comments

10/03/08 Lenny Zane Painful seeing Amanda Peet slumming in this typical Ashley Judd wallow. 2 stars
5/18/08 PAUL SHORTT OVERLONG, PREDICTABLE THRILLER 1 stars
1/06/08 Shannon This was the best movie ever, James Caviezel was steaming hott!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/26/07 Shelley Splinters Really, Sugarfoot? WHOSE lifetime deserves to be so afflicted? 1 stars
9/18/07 Sugarfoot Ashley Judd really does belong on Lifetime and not in the multplexes. 1 stars
6/20/05 R.W. Welch Overplotted conspiracy flick is okay most of the way but phony finale sinks it. 2 stars
10/25/04 Fenstwhip Shiggins Shit! Ashley Judd and Jesus in the same movie. You'd think they'd annihilate each other! 2 stars
8/03/04 Katie I wasn't even paying any attention to the movie, it was so boring! 2 stars
6/20/04 Rock Hound Could have been an episode of J.A.G., which I regard with utter contempt and loathing. 1 stars
4/27/04 4x4 Pretty bad. Although Amanda Peet looks hot. 2 stars
4/03/04 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Compelling until twist ending, when same old Ghastly Judd bites our butts. 2 stars
3/29/04 Marcia Lartz Come on, EricDSnyder, DOUBLE JEOPARDY was much better than this! 2 stars
3/01/04 Ashley Judd Wrong, Jim! I've never had any crap in me! I shit chocolate ice cream! 3 stars
2/25/04 Jim Ever notice how Ashley Judd gets the crap beat out of her on a Rocky-like regularity? 1 stars
2/20/04 Denise Duspiva Okay 3 stars
2/03/04 Chris I actually like this film. It has a very good cast but the ending needs work. 4 stars
1/20/04 Jack Sommersby Well-crafted but palpably absurd and idiotic. 1 stars
1/19/04 Charles Tatum God, this stunk 1 stars
10/05/03 Doc Hollywood Absolute Trash. The twist was just there to fill more movie time. 2 stars
9/01/03 Phil M. Aficionado Well acted but implausible and predictable story line and Hollywood antics 3 stars
7/20/03 Udoka I thought it was okay. 3 stars
4/21/03 Marcia Lartz Come on, EricDSnyder, DOUBLE JEOPARDY was much better than this! 2 stars
4/20/03 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Compelling until twist ending when same old Ghastly Judd bites our butts. 2 stars
4/18/03 Wendy Welch Don't knock it too much, Jim. If it's the only way to regularity..... 2 stars
4/18/03 Ashley Judd WRONG, Jim! I've never had any crap in me. I shit chocolate ice cream! 3 stars
4/18/03 Jim Ever notice that Judd gets the crap beat out of her on a Rocky-like regularity? 1 stars
4/16/03 Veronica Foxx (The Raven-Haired Temptress) Judd: Same shit, different shovel. Freeman doesn't deserve this cinematic ass-rasping. 2 stars
4/11/03 Jack Sommersby Asinine, unbelievable plotting undermines good perfs and agile direction. 2 stars
1/04/03 EDS i thought it was ok 4 stars
11/05/02 Allison Lafferty Too bad Ashley J wont declare moratorium on killing, being beatup & being framed for murder 2 stars
10/26/02 MarktheShark6 I thought it was pretty good, Freedman being an alcoholic was hilarious though. 3 stars
9/27/02 Marcia Lartz Come on, EricDSnyder, DOUBLE JEOPARDY was much better than this! 2 stars
7/05/02 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Compelling until twist ending when same old Ghastly Judd bites our butts. 2 stars
6/07/02 Allison Lafferty Too bad Ashley J wont declare moratorium on killing, being beatup & being framed for murder 2 stars
6/06/02 Ashley Judd WRONG, Jim! I've never had any crap in me. I shit chocolate ice cream! 3 stars
6/06/02 Jim Ever notice that Judd gets the crap beat out of her on a Rocky-like regularity? 1 stars
6/03/02 Veronica Foxx (The Raven-Haired Temptress) (ha93s164.d.shentel.net) Judd: Same shit, different shovel. Freeman doesn't deserve this cinematic ass-rasping. 2 stars
6/01/02 QT Pie Great Movie! 5 stars
6/01/02 Chris This is a crimaly good movie with solid assured performances. Questionable ending. 4 stars
5/16/02 Allison Lafferty Too bad Ashley J wont declare moratorium on killing, being beatup & being framed for murder 2 stars
5/11/02 Jim Ever notice that Judd gets the crap beat out of her on a Rocky-like regularity? 1 stars
4/20/02 Janine Lay I agree with Erik, I guessed he was guilty right off the bat and stupid plot 3 stars
4/16/02 Ziggy Stardust a bad movie all around. the director should be proud. 2 stars
4/13/02 JB Yet twish endings are becoming pretty cliche. Morgan Freeman has good moments. Judd!!! 4 stars
4/09/02 Veronica Foxx (The Raven-Haired Temptress) Judd: Same shit, different shovel. Freeman doesn't deserve this cinematic ass-raping. 2 stars
4/06/02 Arthur Yorra A big,confusing,ridiculous tease so that the movie can have a surprise ending. 2 stars
4/06/02 Todd Why the fuck do I subject myself to this shit? 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  05-Apr-2002 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Aug-2002

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-May-2002




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