Review: “High Crimes”

Military courtroom dramas have become a devolving genre over the years. “A Few Good Men” probably remains the strongest of the genre – great performances, good tension and well-scripted. Almost a decade later came “Rules of Engagement”, a surprisingly unengaging little by-the-numbers trial drama which gave away the ending right from the start, but at least added some interesting locale when Tommy Lee Jones headed to the Middle East. Now comes a slightly weaker TV movie quality light thriller, a kind of “General’s Daughter” (a surprisingly decent thriller) without the intrigue or interesting locale.

The one and only reason this is a draw is Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, the duo had palatable chemistry together in 1997’s superbly dark killer thriller “Kiss the Girls” and now they re-team for the first time. Its a shame the material is nowhere near as captivating and is about as forgettable as Freeman’s ‘Kiss’ follow-up “Along Came a Spider”. The chemistry of the two though still shines despite the hokey dialogue and subplots, the two both carry a subtle dark sense of humour and click such that your always looking forward to their scenes together. Separately they’re pretty good too – Judd displays a professional brashness bordering on arrogance, whilst Freeman plays it laid back and effective as a recovering alcoholic who thankfully never drop into sermons or self-fladulation.

Peet and Adam Scott provide solid support as the sex-crazed sister & likeable young lawyer assistant, but Caviezel is even more of a blank slate than usual. The poorly filmed flashbacks don’t enhance the decently structured but ultimately empty and unsatisfying moments such as a conspiracy sub-plot towards the end which feels too little too late, and ANOTHER film with very deliberate double endings – its overly complicated but lacking in power. Director Carl Franklin does his best and creates some decent tension, but by the fourth time or so there’s a scene with an intruder in a dark house, you know the material isn’t much despite a decent but not unexpected end twist. Its very much an ordinary by the numbers thriller, a shame considering the talent involved.