ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  carl franklin

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  115 minutes

RELEASED  -  5 april 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  high crimes

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $42,000,000
high crimes - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from high crimes at

buy the dvd from high crimes at

a young woman must defend her military husband from harsh charges.

this film reunites judd and freeman, who in 1997, costarred in kiss the girls.


picture from high crimes

picture from high crimes

picture from high crimes


one out of four possible stars

Take a standard and predictable military courtroom thriller and add some serious acting talent to it and the result will look a lot like High Crimes, a film with a pretty standard script with more than its share of entertainment value. This film scores the highest marks for giving its audience a suspenseful time at the movies, an experience worthy of a big tub of popcorn. Ashley Judd has shown dramatic improvement (no pun intended) in her last few films and this performance is another achievement for her. Of course, she had the advantage of working opposite Morgan Freeman. It's certain that even a phone book would appear worthy of an Oscar when put into the same frame with him. And despite some failings in the screenplay, Morgan is able to put his classic spin on the fairly standard dialogue.

And his performance in this film is somewhat different most of his recent roles. Not only does he play a character whose reputation isn't the cleanest, but "Charles Grimes" also has a drinking problem. Freeman creates a lot of comedy in his scenes (where it's warranted, of course) and this breaks up the serious tone of the film, much to the movie's advantage. Since the subject of the film is quite a dark one to begin with, seeing the characters jump into the humorous side of the situation gives the film multiple opportunities for one to enjoy it.

Where this film falters somewhat is in its screenplay. The film is already successful in its performances and a good script would have really improved the film. Crimes might have been worthy of the type of praise heaped on such military thrillers as A Few Good Men and Courage Under Fire. As it is, this film can only bask in the limelight of good entertainment. Which isn't a death knoll on the head of this film, but makes it hard to recommend this film to every moviegoer out there. Fans of ashley judd and Morgan Freeman (but really, who isn't a fan of Morgan Freeman?) will be suitably impressed by the talent of the actors. And fans of those popular military fiction novels might enjoy this film as well.

But it's certain that this film would rank high on anybody's list if it simply paid more attention to the script. High Crimes has attached to it the same impressive talent as A Few Good Men, but without the talented writing of Aaron Sorkin holding the pen. Now, this is not to say that Sorkin is the only writer who can pull off a good military thriller, but in High Crimes, a team of two writers, Yuri Zeltser and Grace Cary Bickley, was not able to turn this military novel into a film whose script was worthy of its actors. Substandard scripts given to such talented actors is a practice becoming increasingly common and Crimes only adds to the list of bad writers getting jobs in hollywood.

Quite a pronouncement, yes, but High Crimes is definitely not a film based on intellectual superiority. Much of its dramatic flair comes from its actors and a few cinematic tricks. And the script sometimes becomes of secondary or even tertiary importance as the events that occur in the film are reminiscent of quite a few other military themed pieces. And in fact, this film has an element of familiarity that allows the outcome to become known even before the outcome has occurred. To put it bluntly, this film is predictable.

But that is where the talents of the cast come in to play. Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, James Caviezel, Adam Scott, and Amanda Peet all add a lot of value to this picture, and it's possible that the film wouldn't be worth that eight dollar tub of popcorn if the casting director hadn't gotten lucky. And in point of fact, Amanda Peet's performance is particularly impressive, considering her earlier turns in the much-maligned films Saving Silverman and The Whole Nine Yards. And, like Peet, Adam Scott is strong in his supporting role and gives the film another interesting face for the audience to focus on.

When taking into account the different aspects of this film, of which the acting, screenplay, and plot seem to be the most important, this movie does well in its basic story and the actors cast. The failure of the script doesn't doom this picture, but it doesn't make the picture great either. It is up to the cast and cinematographer (who really doesn't make a dent with his camera work), to make this film a success, and for fans of the genre, the film works. As long as viewers are able to put some of the film's improbabilities in the background, the characters become interesting enough for the duration of the film. It's a good popcorn movie with a suitable amount of suspense, even if it is the owner of a poorly written script.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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