HIGH CRIMES, which reunites KISS THE GIRLS's Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman,
is an entertaining mystery and thriller by director Carl Franklin (ONE FALSE
MOVE). Set during a military trial that sometimes resembles a kangaroo
court, the story is filled with devilish machinations and partially
predictable but nonetheless satisfying twists. The plot, involving a
military cover-up, isn't the most original, but the adroit cast and crew
milk it for all its worth. You'll jump, you'll cheer, you'll laugh and
you'll be rooting for the defense team. In short, you'll have a good time.
The thriller gets in gear when Tom (James Caviezel, FREQUENCY), a mild
mannered craftsman, is picked up by an FBI swat team on a peaceful San
Francisco street. Accompanying him is his loving and lovely wife, Claire
(Judd), a likable but tough lawyer. Tom is being arrested for the murder of
innocent civilians in a massacre that happened in 1988 in El Salvador while
Tom was part of a clandestine military operation.
A nefarious Brigadier General William Marks (Bruce Davison), who had some
part in the El Salvador incident, is working behind the scenes to see that
Tom is convicted for this crime which Tom claims that he never committed.
The general is "the most decorated, the most powerful, ...", explains Lt.
Terrence Embry (Adam Scott), Tom's barely out-of-puberty, military-appointed
counsel, who figures that defeating Marks will be nearly impossible.
The man who makes the movie is Morgan Freeman as Charlie Grimes, an attack
dog of a lawyer hired by Claire. A Harley-riding ex-drunk, Charlie works
for the prestigious firm of Grimes and Associates, which is the shingle that
hangs outside his shack of a home. The "and Associates" refers to his dog.
A man who has spent his life irritating the military, he is just the man for
the case, but first he must explain the realities of practicing law at a
secret military tribunal to Claire. Speaking like an SAT test, he tells
her, "Military justice is to justice as military music is to music. Wake up
and smell the napalm."
Although Charlie looks like he will be no match for the guys with the
medals, he upstages them from the get-go. After shocking the judge and
prosecutor at the pretrial hearing, he looks over at Claire and says with a
twinkle in his eyes, "So it begins." And for the audience, so begins
another superlative performance by Freeman, who is almost as good as he was
in the wickedly funny NURSE BETTY. Just sit back and enjoy the fun. You
won't be disappointed.
HIGH CRIMES runs 1:55. It is rated PG-13 for "violence, sexual content and
language" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.
My son Jeffrey, almost 13, gave it ***. He liked the plot, the twists and
everything about the movie.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes