"Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd are sensational" (WFLD-TV) in this "head snapping chiller" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) filled with nonstop twists and nail-biting suspense.
Judd stars as Claire Kubik, a smart and sexy attorney whose perfect world comes crashing down when the FBI charges her husband Tom (Jim Caviezel) with the murder of innocent civilians during a covert Army operation fifteen years earlier. Aided by shrewd ex-military lawyer (Freeman), Claire fights to clear Tom's name, but gets too close to exposing a government cover up in the process. Now she must risk her career - and even her life - to find the truth.
'High Crimes' would be a wholly competent thriller if it weren't for the plot holes that you could drive an army issue humvee through. Starring Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman, 'High Crimes' is an almost forgotten product of mediocrity from 2002.
Judd plays Claire Kubik, a big city lawyer who has just been informed that her husband, Tom (Jim Caviezel) isn't who he says he is. When he's apprehended in the middle of the street by an FBI task force and taken to a military prison, marital suspicions are rightly aroused. Tom, or whoever he is, has been accused of killing nine civilians in South America during a military operation. How he completely escaped custody, fled back to the United States undetected, changed his identity, and married Claire is conveniently left out of the plot. Mix in the fact that it seems Tom didn't see fit to move away from the base to which he's taken and tried, and you've got some curious developments that don't help the credibility of the movie. When Tom's entire platoon begins to testify that they saw him commit the murder, rumors of conspiracy abound.
Throwing caution to the wind Claire puts her pending partnership in her law firm, along with her career, on the line to defend her husband, because she's adamant that he didn't do it. She tracks down a local lawyer named Charles Grimes -- Freeman as his usually nonchalant, but cocky self here -- who has tried military cases before. The acting by the main parties is all fairly solid. Judd is great at looking scared, Freeman is a fantastic drunk. And we all know how sympathetic Caviezel can appear.
'High Crimes' is full of false scares. Like the equivalent of the cat jumping out of the closet in a horror movie: A truck slowly follows her down a street or a man outside her house approaches her, only to disappear when Grimes arrives. Hooligans dump oil on her car causing her to wreck. But these events are never ever explained. When the "twist" that's advertised on the box happens, well those guys with the oil make no sense at all.
The side characters, the ones who "know" what is going on, act completely the opposite of how they should act. The movie pushes you intentionally in one direction, like slight of hand. Keep looking over here… keep looking…still looking? BAM! Bet you didn't see that coming. Well, no we didn't because when that happens the rest of the movie doesn't make any sense.
The film serves as an exercise in making a suspenseful thriller when you completely disregard anything that might lead the plot into a place of believability. It's a silly movie, but it does pack in the suspense. This might make a good date movie, there are plenty of jump out and scare you moments to be had, but if you're looking for an intriguing thriller you won't find it here.
This 1080p/AVC MPEG 4 transfer shines. There's a small snippet of amateur video footage at the very beginning, but that's meant to look grainy and over-saturated. The rest of the film looks clear and concise. Even on a 25GB disc, 'High Crimes' shows off the power of Blu-ray. The Blacks are deep and distinguishable. Delineation works well in darker scenes, never muddling faces into obscurity. The lines and freckles on Freeman's face are detailed to perfection. Even with an older film, errant noise like specks of dirt are absent for the most part. A few scenes feature white specks, but nothing that detracts from the overall quality of this presentation. Contrast is consistent throughout the film, treating skin tones with dignity. This is a great transfer for an older catalog title.
The solid HD presentation doesn't stop with the video. It's carried right on over to the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Realistic sounds pepper the surround channels – military personnel jogging for morning drills, the hustle and bustle of a busy city street, and the chatting of a cocktail party - creating an ambient atmosphere. Panning effects are solid, with car crashes and helicopters receiving expert treatment. While dialogue dominates much of the film, it does contain a few raucous explosions that will jolt you. LFE is constantly present throughout, and proves to be especially effective during explosions and vicious car wrecks. All in all, this is one solid, solid track.
Now I know why there was so much room for the video and audio to shine. Not one HD special feature in sight.
'High Crimes' is a trickery of the highest order. It should be thrown in the brig for the deception it pulls over the audience's eyes. It's intentionally misleading, since there's no way that if played out believably the audience wouldn't have seen the ending coming a mile away. The video and audio do, however, bump it up into "rent it" territory.
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