Articles

Movie Renter's Guide - November, 2009

ARTICLE INDEX

"High Crimes" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-november-2009-high-crimes

Synopsis

Claire Kubik (Judd) is a successful San Francisco attorney who is living a near-perfect life with her husband Tom (Caviezel). One night they are out together and Tom is arrested by a team of FBI agents. It turns out that he is being accused of the murder of nine civilians in a remote Latin American village fifteen years earlier while serving in the Marine Corps. Claire decides to represent him and enlists the aid of a young inexperienced military lawyer and old salt ex-military lawyer named Charles Grimes (Freeman). Once the trial starts there is one twist after another as the defense team uncovers various conspiracies and buried facts. Claire and her sister Jackie (Peet) are suddenly the target of mysterious thugs and Grimes manages to become a victim as well as he digs deeper and closes in on the truth. When the facts come out, it sets up an ending that is totally unexpected.

Specifications

  • 20th Century Fox
  • 2002, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 55 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC @ 18.85Mbps
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Jim Caviezel, Amanda Peet, Tom Bower
  • Directed by Carl Franklin
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Brief
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

I really enjoy a good crime drama and this is one is a great example of the genre. The different character roles are perfectly cast and fine performances are turned in by all the principal actors. Ashley Judd plays the devoted wife determined to clear her husband’s name. Morgan Freeman provides an ideal counterpoint with his shrewd approach to the military justice system. Jim Caviezel is a tremendous actor and his every emotion spills forth for all to see as he tries to maintain his wife’s trust and prove his innocence. There is a just right blend of action and dialog driven scenes. The only head-scratcher for me in this film was the inclusion of Claire’s sister Jackie, played wonderfully by Amanda Peet. Although she is a fine actor, I could not determine what her purpose was in the story. Her character merely fills up time in various scenes playing a complete opposite to Claire’s tough take-no-prisoners personality. Jackie is totally self-centered and always dependant on others for her very survival. The plot would have been exactly the same without her and the film perhaps twenty minutes shorter. This is a film I would watch again and I have added it to my library.

Technical

The image is above average for a catalog title. Contrast is deep and uniform with solid shadow detail and decent black levels. Color is superb with a high degree of accuracy and crisp delineation. It’s always clear how a particular scene is lit whether it is under fluorescents, sunlight, candlelight or tungsten. Flesh tones are nicely saturated with a warm look and sharp focus. Film grain is minimal and fine elements are nicely rendered. Tiny details like skin texture and hair pop right out in every scene. The only thing that keeps this transfer from being reference-quality is the added edge enhancement. It persists throughout the movie and is very obvious in bright scenes. I continue to puzzle over why telecine operators add any sort of artificial sharpness to a film transfer. The vast majority of viewers will have some sort of image enhancement feature active on their display anyway. Why not leave the video unspoiled and let those of us who have sworn off such features see the product in its natural state. With a properly calibrated display there is absolutely no need for this.

Audio is also above average for a catalog release. Dialog is very clear and crisp and you can plainly hear what environment everyone is speaking in. Outdoors sounds like outdoors, small rooms sound like small rooms; you get the idea. This sort of sound mixing is a great way to pull the viewer into a scene and I applaud the creators for their efforts. Surrounds and LFE are used sparingly but appropriately. The car crash scene near the end of the film is very impactful. Quick pans are used across the front soundstage with plenty of loud thumps and crunches from the subwoofer.

Extras

Bonus features include a full-length audio commentary by director Carl Franklin, six short standard-def featurettes and the original theatrical trailer.