Reviewed by: Brett Willis
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
You will reap what you sow. Galatians 6:7-8
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
How does one gain victory over temptation? Answer
Is there a way to overcome excessive lust for sex? Answer
If you keep ignoring God’s call to repentance, he will laugh at your calamity. See Proverbs 1:24-33
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
How can I experience forgiveness? Answer
Starring: Denzel Washington, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain, Eva Mendes, John Billingsley | Directed by: Carl Franklin (HIGH CRIMES) | Produced by: Jesse Beaton, Neal H. Moritz | Written by: David Collard | Distributor: MGM
A misdirection cop thriller with Denzel Washington in the driver’s seat. Tagline: “How do you solve a murder when all the evidence points to you?” We can assume that it’s not blockbuster material, or it wouldn’t be an October release. It’s still very good of kind, but with some notable drawbacks.
As the film opens, Matt Whitlock (Washington), the Chief of Police of a small Florida coastal town (he has a total of four officers reporting to him), is on foot patrol at night, checking that downtown businesses are securely locked. Then, in his office, he takes a call from a woman about an intruder. But something’s wrong here. He’s drinking on the job, and finishes his beer before responding to the call. Turns out it’s really an invitation for him to have sex with the woman, Anne (Sanaa Lathan), while pretending to be an intruder (obviously not their first time playing this kinky game). Also turns out that both of them are married. From there on, it just gets uglier. Bad attitudes, threats, manipulation, get-rich-quick schemes, murder.
After making some more bad judgment calls and committing more dishonest acts, Whitlock becomes the logical suspect in a murder that he didn’t commit. We know he’s innocent (of the murders, that is); and we identify with him and squirm with him as the noose of circumstantial evidence tightens around his neck. He’s a good (that is, a smart and skilled) cop, amazingly resourceful at tracking down the real killers while simultaneously staying one step ahead of being arrested himself. But if he’d made some better moral choices, he’d never have been in this so-called hero/victim position in the first place. Numbers 32:23b says “Be sure your sin will find you out.” In other words, when you’re guilty, sooner or later you’ll be exposed.
There are two simulated sex scenes at the beginning of the film: the role-playing scene mentioned above (which includes Matt kissing Anne’s cleavage while she’s in her bra, and an implication of off-screen oral sex); and a later scene of Matt and Anne in simulated orgasm. There’s no explicit nudity in these scenes or anywhere else in the film, but the sensuality is very strong nonetheless. At the end of the film, two people “kiss and make up” (or should I say “make out”), moving indoors for implied sex. There’s no other actual sexual content, but Anne and Whitlock’s estranged wife Alex (Eva Mendes) both project “hotness.”
There are at least 40 occurrences of strong language: a couple of probable f-words, along with s*, a*h*, curses and oaths involving God and Jesus, and strong sexual slang. There are also some double-meaning jokes: While Matt is in foreplay, he gets an emergency call on his cell phone telling him to “come quick.”
Surprisingly, there’s no racial slur language. However, there’s a joke involving a white witness saying that a “prowler” she saw looked like Chief Whitlock (in fact, it WAS Chief Whitlock), but then changing her mind and fingering one after another black man in the police station as the prowler. This exploits both the black-men-as-suspects premise and the “you guys all look alike” angle.
The violence includes killings and threats with firearms, a death from a fall, some tense and angry confrontations, and quick views of two burned and charred bodies. Also some pushing and shoving, and several bad attitudes. There’s a sub-theme of Anne’s husband possibly being a wife-beater. The adrenaline factor throughout the film is very high.
Although most of the viewer’s questions are cleared up eventually, there are still some plot holes as is usual in this type of film. Also, there are some unrealistic cop actions (even by movie standards), such as when Whitlock and a medical examiner illegally break into a room to search for evidence, and neither of them bothers to put on gloves to hide their fingerprints.
I like cop films and the misdirection genre; I like Denzel Washington and consider him a worthy successor to the mantle of Sidney Poitier and Morgan Freeman; and I acknowledge that the director did a very good job of keeping the viewer guessing and of creating an edge-of-your-seat sensation throughout most of the film. Nevertheless, I don’t recommend this film even for fans of this genre.
The thing that bothers me most is that there are no pure heroes in it. Every major character is tainted in some way, even if only in covering up the illegal and unethical behavior of other characters. Saying any more than that would create spoilers. I don’t wish to give away who the bad guys are. My point is that in the old days, even this film’s good guys would have been considered bad guys. And a twist at the end gives the tainted heroes a major break and therefore sends the wrong message.
Washington is superb when playing a Good Cop. But he picked up an Oscar for playing a murderous, drug-dealing Bad Cop in “Training Day.” Now he’s picked up a record paycheck, and is getting critical raves, for playing a Bad Good Cop. There’s something wrong with our value system.
Sometimes, in this world, wrong actions DO go unpunished. But Hebrews 4:12,13 and many other Scripture passages warn us that God sees everything. There’s really no such thing as “getting away with it.”
Violence: Heavy | Profanity: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: Heavy