Prayer Focus
Movie Review

High Crimes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Drama / Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2002
Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman in “High Crimes”

Starring: Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, James Caviezel | Directed by: Carl Franklin | Produced by: Jesse Beaton, Lisa Henson, Arnon Milchan, Janet Yang, Jesse Beaton-Franklin | Written by: Yuri Zeltser, Cary Bickley, Susan Shilliday | Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox

Many couples struggle in the area of infertility. It’s only natural for husbands and wives to long for a child, and it is difficult in relationships when that area of intimacy becomes a challenge. I know all of those frustrations first hand as my wife and I took that journey for nine years. The world of parenting just always seemed out of reach and everyone around us appeared pregnant or with children. This is one of several points that Joseph Finder weaves into an excellent story in “High Crimes”. Though still flawed, this could be the perfect date movie.

Ashley Judd and James Caviezel in “High Crimes”

For the ladies, we have romance, a loving couple charting ovulation, the dead beat sister who comes through in the end, and a professional/career wife who is ready to stand by her man. For the men, we have military intrigue, action, suspense, and more than its share of thrills and spills. Our story begins with Claire (Ashley Judd) and Tom (James Caviezel) Kubik having their romantic world shattered by an abrupt FBI arrest.

Claire is a high profile San Francisco lawyer. Her husband is being accused of killing nine civilians in El Salvador. She quickly learns that Tom not only served in the U.S. Marine Corps, but his real name is Ronald Chapman and he has been AWOL for 14 years. Claire is not impressed by Lt. Terry Embry (Adam Scott) who has been assigned to her husbands case. She quickly seeks permission to sit second chair during the proceedings. Our plot quickly becomes a cross between “JAG” and “Law and Order.” Mrs. Kubik does not stop there. She finds another lawyer that has military law experience. Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman) is our crusty, unshaven, trying-to-be-sober assistant.

Freeman and Judd bring a lot of style to Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley’s script. There is always some new piece of information that is added to keep the deck stacked against our hero. There is plenty of suspense and the soundtrack is perfect for this film. I love the unique blend of the hyper and the hokey as Director Carl Franklin pushes our buttons.

I’ll refrain from saying anything more about the story (wouldn’t want to be a scene spoiler). But I will say that “High Crimes” does earn its PG-13 rating: it’s fairly tame in the area of language, the violence is right on the edge but not obsessive, but there are three scenes of sexuality/nudity that include a strip club, a motel room with prostitutes, and implied pre-marital sex. For those who feel comfortable in PG-13 fare, “High Crimes” offers a decent thriller worth the price of a babysitter.

Viewer Comments
Negative—I logged on this sight before viewing this movie tonight and was in a hurry so I only glanced at the initial review. I made a mistake in doing this. The language taking God’s name in vain is acceptable to film makers and I have tolerated it too much and it certainly was offensive in this movie. The most disturbing scene to a friend and me was the scene in a strip club and the frontal nudity of the prostitutes. There isn’t a 13+ year-old girl or boy I would take to see this. Please don’t recommend this as highly for others
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Deb Sowder, age 41
Positive—It has been weeks since I saw it, but enjoyed the movie. This movie does contain profanity and does follow my morals, but it was very entertaining! I was in suspense often, I pulled for the marriage and was glad she followed her heart, and I was surprised by the ending. I think it was a good movie. I do think it should have been rated higher. I think it’s too much for anyone under 13 to even be allowed to see!
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Patricia, age 35
Negative—I agree with most of Douglas Downs’ review of this movie (yes indeed, I enjoyed what I heard of the soundtrack) and I always enjoy the chemistry between Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman, but there is something so wrong about this movie, so much so that I had to finally walk out and ask for my money back! God’s name had been taken in vain 2 times within 20 minutes, once by Ashley Judd herself! I am disappointed. Ashley Judd is one of my favorite actresses and I truly enjoy her movies, but enough already! I just want to apologize to God for not walking right out the first time… that was my mistake…
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Ann, age 48
Negative—…this movie stunk. It was a horrid film. The movie begins (and perhaps this is a mild spoiler) with a sex(y) scene. Now I understand that this was going on with a married couple, but to have this at the beginning of the movie, just begs to have more trashy scenes like this later on. And yes, they came. We have the sister almost nude twice in the movie, a pre-marital sexual affair, a scene in a strip club (though only the waist down was shown, we as Christians have imaginations like everyone else), people getting drunk (one of the main characters), prostitutes cursing and tempting a man to get him to talk, and more nonsense that didn’t contribute to the movie flow. The plot of this film could have been good. I understand that yes, the military can sometimes do unconventional things to hunt down terrorists, and there are twists and turns to who you can and can’t trust, but the makers of this film just didn’t put it all together in a coherent manner. I’ll admit, at one point in the movie, they did get me to think that it was the end (and that would have stunk if it would have ended where I thought it was), but then I thought to myself that it couldn’t end there because the movie is so predictable. And after this point, there were times when the makers wanted to do the same effect (thinking it was over before it really was), but instead of producing the desired effect, to me it just drug on and on, and I wanted to just leave the theater. This movie could have been good. But there are just too many unnecessary sexual references and innuendos, other immoral things (drunkenness for example), a bad flow to a good plot, and bad camera angles and bad shots (a prostitutes breasts for example, shown several times) to make this movie worth your time. I wouldn’t even go for the cheap price of a matinee showing. I don’t go to many movies and the Lord has been speaking to my heart, and this movie just put me under conviction that as a young Christian male (21 years old), that I am watching this. I had a 14 year old friend with me too. Thank goodness he agreed that this movie was no good also. Don’t let the lure of the military fool you in this movie. This is not a good movie for Christians, especially ones who are having moral struggles in their life such as drinking, violence, lust, etc., to be watching. High Crimes is not recommended.
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Jeremy, age 31
Positive—This was in general a very good movie with some exceptions. The story was well developed and the acting was good. But like any Hollywood today it was tainted with sexually provocative innuendo. The story didn’t need all the sexual subplots and scenes there included to make the feel of the movie a little trashier. Ashley Judd and her sister in the movie “Green” prance around for most of the movie wearing thin shirts and no bra’s. There’s a scene in which Morgan Freeman’s character is walking through a strip club and in a room with two prostitutes. However, there is no nudity but the movie comes close many times. Language in this film is typical and there are some scenes of violence but little gore. In general I found this movie well thought out and enjoyable with a good twist at the end. I didn’t care for the sexual undertones but I have seen worse.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—John Herby, age 31
Negative[High Crimes is, in our opinion,] morally destructive. In exploring the damage deceit causes to both the deceiver and those deceived, it could have been a very helpful film. Instead we found “The true crime in “High Crimes” is the creation of an artificial world in which there are no truly admirable or spiritually mature persons. If the world were really that void of morality we would be without hope for our future or ourselves.” We also note: “Many today believe that right and wrong have no real meaning. For many, “right” is simply what works within this specific situation. If it didn’t work, it would be “wrong.” But what is missing from this morality is the truth that deceit undermines all relationships. It damages the emotions as well as the integrity of the person who perpetrates the deceit.
—Denny and Hal, CinemainFocus.com
Comments from young people
Positive—This was a really interesting movie with a lot of turns and twists in the story. Its been the best I’ve seen in a long time, and if you don’t mind a little bit of offensive movie, you will enjoy it very much.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Shanequa, age 16
Positive—I loved this movie. I just saw it about 3 hours ago and I think that both Jim Caviezal and Ashley Judd did a wonderful job on this film. The marriage is wonderful, I didn’t expect that end. Go to see it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Anna Arango, age 10