High Crimes

Stars:    Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Jim Caviezel, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Bruce Davison
Director:   Carl Franklin
Writers:    Cary Bickley & Yuri Zeltser, based on a novel by Joseph Finder

Ashley Judd plays Claire Kubik, a smart, high-powered San Francisco defense attorney for a big firm where’s she’s on track for a coveted partnership. She’s got everything she needs: fashionable clothes, cool house and a super guy of a husband with whom she’s trying to have a baby. Seemingly out of the blue, ex-Marine husband Tom (Jim Caviezel) is arrested in one of those overly dramatic busts involving way too many FBI agents exploding out of a van, ready to bash heads in. He’s charged with committing mass murder during a special ops in El Salvador years earlier and is now being arraigned before a military tribunal. Claire steps up to the plate to defend him but because she doesn’t know the ins and outs of military justice, she enlists the help of a lawyer named Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman). Charlie is a former JAG attorney who now defends hookers and low lifes while trying hard to abstain from drink. But he likes the idea of running rings around the military especially when he (and she) sniffs a cover-up.

High Crimes is a neat rendition of military cover-up, black ops, court room drama and woman in jeopardy. It generally keeps your attention but offers little real excitement. Neither the story nor the characters break any new ground. Judd”s Claire is competent even under the worst conditions and she even knows how to hold her own against a Brigadier General. What else would you expect of her? Morgan Freeman, while portraying your usual down and out sort, is marvelous no matter what he does; his manner is nice and easy and he manages to make us believe that, alcoholic or not, he can sober up instantly when needed. And being of such ultimate high moral fiber, you would expect nothing less of him. For the life of me, however, I can’t figure why the need for Amanda Peet playing Claire’s ditzy sister. She’s an unneeded and unwanted distraction even though some in the audience might appreciate her bouncing around in her undies (or lack) in what is supposed to be a PG13 drama. Even the hookers cover up better than she does.

Lotta says:
You’ll come away thinking you’ve seen it all before, including Ashley Judd’s performance and you have. It’s entertaining enough for what it is, nothing more.

Reviewed 4/6/02