Mean Machine

Ashley Judd, Jim Caviezel and Morgan Freeman.
Directed by Carl Franklin.
Running Time: 115 mins
Rated: M
Claire Kubik (Judd) is a high-flying San Francisco lawyer. She is married
to Tom (Caviezel) who has a carpentry studio at home. While out Christmas
shopping Tom is arrested by the FBI and charged with war crimes, dating
back 13 years when he was a marine in El Salvador. The problem is Claire
didn't know Tom was a marine and that he ever lived in El Salvador. She has
been married to a stranger and doesn't know if he is guilty. Teaming up with fellow lawyer Charlie Grimes (Freeman) she stands by her man and defends him at the court martial.

High crimes is a big budget, beautifully shot film with fine actors. It also has a good story which gets lost along the way because it tries too hard and has a few too many gaps in the tale to enable us to ride with it all the way home.

Tom has told Claire he was an orphan raised in a foster home but we are
never told how Tom accounts to his wife for the years he was in El Salvador. Tom is appointed an Army lawyer, but does he always have to be an idiot? Does Claire have to have a no-hoper promiscuous sister? Does Charlie
Grimes have to be a no-hoper alcoholic ex-marine lawyer? In High Crimes the
answer to these questions is yes, yes and yes. No cliché is left unused!

Director Carl Franklin should have spent less time on silly set-ups trying to scare us and instead reworked a decent story into a believable script. With the money and talent at his disposable his negligence in this regard means his film amounts to a cinematic high crime.
Richard Leonard SJ

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