Monday, November 16, 2009

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

This is a movie based on another movie apparently with the same title. I am not sure why they decided to remake it, there is nothing magnanimous or life changing about it. But this does not mean it is not entertaining or well played out.

Michael Douglas is the district attorney (DA) in this somewhat riveting courtroom drama. He is Mark Hunter and he is on fire. He is convicting criminal after criminal or suspect after suspect. This is great, is it not? The film takes place in Shreveport, LA. and the voters there are following this charismatic DA in droves. He is on his way to become governor. But is he honest and is he convicting the right criminals?

A slick and energetic investigative reporter is C.J. Nicholas. Jesse Metcalfe plays this C.J. Nicholas who is willing to risk it tall to prove a powerful point that has many people's lives in check whether they know it or not. His career is on track until he is pulled over by his supervisor. They are cutting his investigative team and placing him under general assignment. Which means his job became more mainstream and not as exciting. Whatever, he has a job and he should be happy with that. I am not sure he has seen how many people in this planet are hurting under socialist policies. He does reveal his plan or hunch to his supervisor but since he does not have substantial proof that the DA is planting evidence, his supervisor is not willing to risk the network's reputation on something that is not stickyproof. See Dan Rather if one is not sure what I mean.

The Grudge 2's Amber Tamblyn stars in this movie. In fact, her character takes over when Nicholas screws up. Her character is Ella Crystal and she falls in love with Nicholas. Tamblyn is attractive but this movie, certainly in the beginning, act like she is Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kayla Murphy or Olguita Villalobos. Tamblyn is not on the level or caliber of any of these females and I noticed this in Grudge 2 as well. She should not have been the star in that movie either. Grandma's Boy Joel Moore is Nicholas's best friend Corey Finley and in the movie's outset informs Nicholas that she is out of his league. She is Tamblyn ofcourse, they must be seeing something that I am not. Credit should be given when it is deserved.

Nicholas has this plan all figured out. He enlists Moore on this grand plan who is also his work partner in their short lived and fledgling two man investigative reporting unit. That is why he pleads with him to shoot for the stars, bring down the DA, and possibly win a pulitzer. So they wait for the right type of murder and Nicholas implicates himself. It is not uncommon for him to arrive at a murder scene after the police and report the story. They want a homicide where their is evidence but it is not a slam dunk case. Primeval's Orlando Jones is Detective Ben Nickerson. He accepts season tickets to the Saints games, I am assuming from Nicholas for the evidence compiled for this case. Nicholas wants this so he can buy the right clothes and items needed to implicate himself in the crime. Nickerson is the lead detective until Hunter has a corrupt detective assume the lead detective's role. This lead detective has been planting evidence, like a cigarette butt from a suspect, then they toss this into evidence, with the suspect's fingerprints, and frame the suspect. They use the DNA to convict some random suspect which fits the profile somewhat.

Well, during the trial, Nicholas is prepared to frame the DA but his aloof friend Finley did not make enough copies of the tape. In fact, he is killed returning to the court room with the disc that is needed to prove Nicholas's theory. Hunter's main man, the lead detective, kills Finley in a car chase. How this worked out in Hunter's favor is pure luck. But Nicholas and Finley only made two copies? Are you kidding me? I would have made 7 copies and hid 3 of them in places no one would find. I would give two away to trusting folks as well and keep two in close proximity. Nicholas should have hidden some copies as well. Come on now.

Nicholas makes the accusations against the DA that he is framing people and that he implicated himself but he has only two receipts from items bought after the murder to run on. He put it out there but Hunter is shrewed and says Nicholas could have bought the rare sneackers before the murder and the sweat pants prior as well. Nicholas's advances are thwarted. Nicholas begins to perspire.

Well, Nicholas is convicted and sentenced to death row. Now it is Ella's turn. She starts to dig up evidence. She visits some technical experts and they realize and prove that the cigarette picture in the crime scene photo was added after the fact. Shortly thereafter, Ella is almost run down and possibly would have been if it was not for Nickerson. Nickerson had been following the DA's law enforcement and corrupt partner and shot him up in the parking garage. The tide has turned.

With this evidence that Ella uncovers and the fact that a star detective was trying to kill a DA prosecutor at the behest of the DA, this is no good. The wolves begin to howl and the arrows point at Hunter.

The problem with this is all those convictions by Hunter will be overturned. They will have to be reinvestigated. All those families will have to go through the pain again. Now their loved one's murderer has actually been lose. Also, the convicts being released are not actually truly innocent, not really kind neighborly folks. But they should not in prison for a crime they did not committ either.

Nicholas is not an Abraham Lincoln either. Not even close. He eliminates a black woman who was black mailing him. Why was she blackmailing Nicholas? Because Nicholas made some special documentary, but he fabricated it. The destitute black woman was blackmailing Nicholas. So Nicholas decides to kill two birds with one stone. Not even his best friend knew that Nicholas actually killed this woman. Ofcourse he did not. This is the crime he uses to fool the system and toss the entire book at the DA. Ella puts the pieces together, Nicholas thought his grand schemed bagged the girl of his dreams and would give him a story that would end all stories. He can be cell mates with Hunter now. Ella calls the police and walks out.

This was a decent movie. There were not any wasted scenes. The ending was surprising. It was an intense movie and that parking lot chase seen was interesting. Watching that car skid around the cement column was unique and exciting. This was one of the better court room dramas I have seen in a while. But it was not nearly as good as The International or Body of Laws, lets be realistic.

I allocate this movie 3 stars.***

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