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High Crimes

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: High Crimes

Starring: Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman
Director: Carl Franklin
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: April 2002
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Jim Caviezel, Adam Scott, Bruce Davison, Amanda Peet

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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

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