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High Crimes (2002)

A civilian lawyer discovers that military justice isn’t always just.

Directed by:

Carl Franklin

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 110 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

Ashley Judd stars as Claire Kubik, a high-powered and successful defence attorney. She has it all – she is happily married to Tom Kubik (James Caviezel), and her career is on the way up. Their perfect life unexpectedly goes awry one evening when Tom is suddenly arrested and his true identity, Ron Chapman, is exposed. Ashley is stunned by the revelation, but Tom assures her that he is being framed by the military for a crime he didn't commit.

Tom is put on trial in a military court for the murder of Latin American villagers years earlier when he was in the Marines; a crime he says was carried out by others who are now senior figures in the military. Evidence is hard to find, as many of the witnesses have already met with suspicious deaths. Although she knows nothing about military law, Claire decides to represent him, with the help of Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman), a rather discredited lawyer with military experience and something of a reputation. Together, they must uncover the truth behind the accusations, but it soon becomes apparent that there are people who will go to any lengths to stop them.

The 'innocent man accused' is an old and familiar story, but in this film the tale is told reasonably well. The conspiracy deepens and expands in a satisfying way, and the threat posed by the conspirators is palpable. While the ending of the trial is something of an anticlimax, it is followed by a twist in the tail that, while not entirely unexpected, is well-handled. It is the tense journey, rather than the conclusion, which is most satisfying about this film.

It's Got: Tension. Good performances from Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.

It Needs: A few more surprises.

DVD Extras The DVD contains an interesting collection of featurettes on a diverse variety of topics related to the film. Extras: Director’s commentary, Six featurettes – A Military Mystery, FBI Takedown in Union Square, A Different Kind of Justice, Liar Liar: How to beat a Polygraph, Together Again and Car Crash. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

A Few Good Men, A Time to Kill

Summary

This is a decent thriller with convincing performances. You don’t necessarily believe the story, but the film is engrossing enough to be worth suspending your disbelief for a couple of hours and taking it at face value.

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