THE CASE: High Crimes begins with grainy footage of a bunch of bodies lined up in a grungy town, while an elderly woman wails over and over. We flash back to the happy marriage of Claire (Ashley Judd) and Tom Kubik (James Caviezel) who are trying to start a family. She's a successful lawyer; he's a successful Marine. Their life is disrupted by a break-in by some punks.
In a trend that is highly representative of the disjointed plotline of High Crimes, Tom is suddenly arrested. Tom's name is actually Sergeant Ron Chapman, and he is wanted for the execution of a bunch of people in another country. But Tom/Ron proclaims his innocence, complicated by the fact that Claire is pregnant.
So Claire buckles down. She decides to stand by her man and act as counsel on the case after meeting Ron's defense, Lieutenant Terrence Embry (Adam Scott), a newbie for sure. Claire's not dumb; she knows she needs help. She pulls in Dr. Alex Cross…I mean Charles W. Grimes, played by Morgan Freeman. Complicating things is Jackie (Amanda Peet), Claire's sister.
I'm bringing High Crimes up on charges of opaque plot points, awful stereotypes, and worst of all, just being plain boring. The charges are as follows:
HIGH CRIME #1: Using Grimes' alcoholism for laughs. It's not funny and it's insulting to alcoholics.
HIGH CRIME #2: Portraying the Marines as bloodthirsty, incompetent thugs who terrorize women and the downtrodden. It's offensive to just about everyone in the armed forces.
HIGH CRIME #3: The Jackie character doesn't need to be in the movie. Peet's sole purpose is apparently to walk around in underwear so that Judd doesn't have to.
HIGH CRIME #4: Idiotic clues. Ambidextrous people do NOT all throw things back and forth in their hands; that is certainly not indicative of a person being a criminal. Worse, in the flashback sequences, the main bad guy tosses an AK-47 (not an easy weapon to toss around) back and forth in his hands. All to demonstrate he's ambidextrous and therefore the killer.
HIGH CRIME #5: A long, drawn-out (115 minute) plot with a depressing conclusion that doesn't make up for any of the nonsense we had to put up with to get to the end.
LESSER CHARGES: Unbelievable plot points (a civilian lawyer defending her military husband?), choppy editing (what does the break-in have to do with anything?), cheesy music that telegraphs When Bad Things Are About to Happen (TM), characters that appear out of nowhere and then disappear until conveniently needed, and really stupid terror tactics by the shadowy bad guys.
Your honor, I find High Crimes guilty of all of the above charges and recommend both Judd and Freeman be given better acting opportunities, Yuri Zelster and Grace Cary Bickley sent to writing school, and director Carl Franklin sentenced to acting in the Alf Christmas Special…again.