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View ‘High Crimes’ with low expectations

“High Crimes” is an insidious film not worthy of the sophisticated filmgoers’ $8.50. Packaged as a thriller, a few scenes will send your heartbeat racing, but Director Carl Franklin does not fare well in this ingenuous product.

Franklin’s first grave move was casting both Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman together yet again. Throughout the film there is a propensity to feel like you have seen this film before. Judd seems to be playing the same recurrent role in “High Crimes” as in “Double Jeopardy”, “Kiss the Girls”, and a “Time to kill.”

Judd plays Claire Kubrik, an attractive 30-something criminal lawyer whose idyllic married life is shattered when she discovers her husband, Tom Kubrik (Jim Caviezel) may not be who he thinks he his.

Franklin wanted badly to establish Caviezel as the perfect husband, but this fell short of being accomplished.

So when Tom, is suddenly accosted by the FBI with guns and explosives to boot, who cares? Really who absolutely gives a damn? Franklin failed miserably to establish a connection with Tom. This is just the beginning of an unsuccessful attempt of conspiracy and suspense plot.

Claire’s perfect husband it seems has been charged with first-degree murder. As a Special Forces marine, he changed his name after being accused of killing innocent villagers in a 1988 anti-terrorists operation.

As Tom, (whom we now know is Ron Chapman) awaits his military trial, Claire decides to give up her posh job as a lawyer to defend her husband. She cannot take on the military appointed prosecutor and their pundits alone, however. Perhaps Franklin employed a better tactic here when he provides the straight face, lack luster character that is Claire with a few sidekicks.

Herald in Morgan Freeman, with a head of unruly peppered hair, who plays Charlie Grimes, a former military attorney and self proclaimed, “wild card”. Unconventional, and a recovering alcoholic, Freeman’s character provides an equilibrium as Judd moves ineffectively between being a distraught and abandoned wife and a tough as nails defense attorney.

But even Freeman seems to be stuck in a recurrent role, as once again he is the character who brings an unwrinkled air of confidence and knowledge to unfortunate situations.

Most of the action on the movies takes place both inside and outside the courtroom. When Claire and Charlie are not being overtly demoralized in court by a purported military cover-up, they have to face a couple of beat downs, and attempted death threats to thwart their goal of disproving the military’s charges against Tom.

There are so many of these attempts to silence Claire and Charlie, it soon becomes monotonous. Mysterious cars stalk Claire on the streets and someone even breaks into the dilapidated house she’s rented near the base as a means of intimidation.

As far as the crime that Tom/Ron supposedly committed, why would the military want to unearth something so unjustifiable? And when did the military care if nine brown people in Mexico died? Furthermore, the speedy trial, which occurred after the Christmas shopping spree and was over by the time Christmas presents could be open, is a little careless. Unfortunately, the movie had ambitious goals that it never realized. It began with a hint of hope but soon faded into crude scare tactics and meaningless back and forth banter. Please don’t spend one hour and 55 minutes sitting through this unfortunate excuse of a courtroom thriller.