"High Crimes" Blu-ray Review
September 24, 2009 by Zach Demeter
After starring together in Kiss the Girls, Fox paired Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman up again for 2002’s High Crimes. Though not as well received as Girls, Crimes made its budget back domestically and served as another solid suspense/crime drama to add to the pairs film roster. This is all despite a poor reception by critics, who panned it for its predictability and retread of plots from other films that were done better and with a bit more subtly.
Ashley Judd stars as Claire Kubik, a high-powered attorney whose perfect life comes down when her husband is charged with high crimes of murder. Enlisting the aid of a shrewd military lawyer (Morgan Freeman), Claire will risk her career and even her life to find the truth in this "head-snapping thriller" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
There’s a reason High Crimes came into theaters, hit home video and promptly disappeared. The reason, of course, is that it’s quite a mediocre film and as such you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would really want to watch it repeatedly or tout its originality. Despite this, of course, the stars of the film are the only reason why anyone would give it a second chance. Freeman is, as always, fantastic on screen and Judd adds the necessary eye candy and acting gravitas to the film to make it work, even on a superficial level.
Frankly the only reason this film is so disappointing is because it is so predictable. It’s easy to know who the killer is from the start and I never once second-guessed my prediction as it was all so evident to me. Perhaps I just watch too many movies, but the “mystery” in this film wasn’t what kept me watching; no, what kept me in front of the set was just to see how it played out and to see who knew what and what would happen to them afterwards. It’s not a terribly original or exciting outing but it’s a fair way to kill a lazy weekend afternoon if you’re bored and nothing else is on the tube.
Honestly I’m struggling to even find things to say about this film; it’s almost two hours long and there’s just so little to talk about. The characters are incredibly predictable and even though the plot is mildly engaging in the same was as a standard episode of CSI, it just doesn’t stick with you. Freeman getting beat up disappears quickly and Judd’s research into the matter of her wrongly accused husband turns up the usual unwilling informants who eventually spill what they know in the end.
It’s not that it’s a bad film by any means; it’s just a very mediocre one with nothing original. The “twist” at the end isn’t surprising in the least (sorry Jesus, I knew it was you the whole time) and just about the only enjoyable thing in this film was seeing Freeman and Judd on screen together again. Even if the movies they do make together aren’t all that original, they’re moderately entertaining at least. In the end this film is worth a Rental only if you’re hard up—otherwise you can probably catch it on cable at some point.
Fox releases High Crimes on Blu-ray in a standard Eco Elite case without any inserts. Menu and disc art are nice and well done and the AVC encoded (@18.85mbps) transfer is quite well done. Plenty of detail comes through the transfer and although the overblown contrast and grain of the opening flashback may be off-putting, if you stick with it you’ll be rewarded with a fairly good transfer overall, although the image is a bit soft at times. In the end it’s a solid transfer and is complemented well by the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which, despite being focused in the center channel mainly, is eventually unleashed in the final moments of the film in which the car chase finally wakes up the surrounds and LFE output with some fantastic mixing. Not really enough to warrant sitting through a nearly two hour movie of mediocrity, but hey, it was a nice surprise at least.
Extras are all repeated from the previous DVD edition and include:
• Commentary by Carl Franklin
• “A Military Mystery” featurette
• “FBI Takedown in Union Square” featurette
• “A Different Kind of Justice” featurette
• “Liar Liar: How to Beat a Polygraph with Sue Ducett” featurette
• “The Car Crash” featurette
• “Together Again” featurette
• Theatrical Trailer
The extras, sans commentary, are all rather short and last only five or seven minutes max each. Not really anything here worth checking out, although the commentary with Franklin is fairly enjoyable, despite this moving being so bland.
Overall if you own the DVD edition already this Blu-ray edition boasts a solid A/V upgrade but only bother if you really enjoyed this movie for some reason.
High Crimes is now available on Blu-ray.