Wednesday, January 8, 2014

High Crimes ★★

Image result for High Crimes film stills

    "High Crimes" is a 2002 thriller directed by Carl Franklin, and it is a picture that is based off a novel of the same name written by Joseph Finder. It is the second feature film starring the duo of Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd as the title characters. With a subpar plot and very little intrigue, "High Crimes" falls tremendously short of any real expectations we should have for a masterful American thriller.

    This film opens with a startling image of several deceased villagers and a mourning mother. We are told this scene takes place in El Salvador, sometime in the year of 1988. We can also assume that these villagers did not die of natural causes, as their deaths seem to be the result of a multiple homicide. (This event alone will glue together the pieces of this below average storyline.)

    Fast forward to the present time period and we meet one of our main characters, Claire Kubik, in her Marin County, California, residence. She has just checked her ovulation test to find that she is in "prime" condition to conceive a baby. Why not get started immediately? She alerts her carpenter husband, Tom Kubik, and they begin to fool around.

    Everything seems picture perfect in Claire Kubik's life. She is a well to do defense attorney, who just succeeded in getting one of her clients a new trial, even though it seemed rather futile. The depiction of her received praise, as she enters her firm's law offices, only adds to the opinion that lawyers care more about their "wins" or "losses," then they do about the actual individual they represent.

    As if this rudimentary plot description weren't banal enough: Although, that is essentially all that is of any prominence here (the plot), considering this film cannot muster much more from its fragile structure. (It becomes even more fruitless as the storyline proceeds in its contrived dullness.)

    This "white picket fence" dream of a life is suddenly thrown to the dogs when, during a Christmas shopping spree, the FBI arrest her husband (in an utterly ridiculous scene with regard to plausibility) and charge him with the deaths of the nine civilians murdered in El Salvador. Claire Kubik must defend her husband's honor, and with the help of an ex-military lawyer, Charlie Grimes, she will unearth a reality that is as unexpected as it is preposterous. (Which is very.)

     The performances in "High Crimes" scream of mediocrity. The beautiful and talented Ashley Judd stars as Claire Kubik. Judd plays this character to the best of her abilities, or as well as the script allows her to. In a few emotionally charged scenes, Judd does show her credibility as an actress. She once again plays the "victim," and Judd has a natural talent for playing these types of roles.

    The only bright spot in this film is the character of Charlie Grimes, played by the one and only Morgan Freeman. Grimes--as mentioned above--is an ex-military lawyer, who is enlisted by Claire to help prove her husband's innocence. He is a man who spends his time counting the days of his sobriety and cherishing life without conviction. Freeman brings his brilliant range as an actor to this less than deserving film. He breathes life into this role and produces an edge that this picture so desperately needs. It is a shame that his performance becomes overshadowed by the inept story and the lack of surrounding talent.

     Movies in the "thriller" genre of filmmaking are supposed to do just that: thrill and entertain the audience. "High Crimes" is a bitter example of what happens when a semi-interesting novel is begrudgingly transformed into a dull and unmotivated film. The direction has its moments, but, overall, it is not consistent enough to keep us involved. Case in point: There is a scene in which Claire answers her cell phone and that apparently calls for a sudden, fast paced and jerky close-up. It only proves that there are masters of filmmaking and others who do not understand the delicacy of such techniques.

No comments:

Post a Comment