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high_crimes_001High Crimes is a formulaic thriller saved only by some strong performances and the steady hand of director Carl Franklin. The story involves a mass execution in a Latin American village, and the Army’s ensuing cover-up. Attorney Claire Kubik’s (Ashley Judd) husband Ronald Chapman (James Caviezel) is wrongly (or maybe correctly) accused of the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians while he was in the Marines. Her world is turned upside down as she tries to defend her husband in military court. Along the way she enlists the help of grizzled lawyer Charles Grimes (Morgan Freeman) to sort out the intricacies of military law. Predictable and uninspired, High Crimes is almost completely forgettable save for its stylish direction and solid work from Freeman and Judd. Freeman deserves better than this, he’s a gifted actor who elevates the material he’s given to work with, but I would like to see him in a truly meaty role that would challenge him. Judd, I think, needs to spend more time considering her career choices. While she has generally avoided the women in danger scenarios of many of her contemporaries, by choosing mechanical roles like this she is keeping her light under a bushel.

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