Movie Review: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

I can say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this movie was not for me. It is a boring, predictable romp through a world of corrupt D.A.’s and unwavering, investigative reporters.

A remake of a 1956 film of the same name, the story follows the efforts of reporter C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) to expose District Attorney Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) for corruption. To do so, he plots to incriminate himself for murder and prove that Hunter is doctoring evidence. However, when things go awry, it becomes a race against time for his girlfriend—Assistant D.A. Ella (Amber Tamblyn)—to uncover the truth and set him free.

The script is dry and unimpressive. Dialogue is often tired, and the interactions between characters often feels forced—unbelievable. Numerous scenes also feel stiff and out of place. Some feel unnecessary, others like we’re missing something that is necessary. What attempts are made at suspense are poorly done, the key de resistance being a five minute hide-and-go-seek car chase in a parking garage, complete with tripping damsel in distress and a knight in shining armor appearing just in the nick of time to save the girl and save the day—all on a hunch, of course.

While the script fails, I can’t say the actors do much better. Tamblyn and Metcalfe (John Tucker, in case you forgot, from the infamous chick-flick “John Tucker must die”) just don’t have that click. Within moments of the movie’s opening—and a not-so-exciting night of fornication, shame-shame—Ella and Nicholas fall deeply in love, and it becomes like something of a lost puppy dog relationship. But you don’t feel any chemistry between them. The only one I can give kudos to is Douglas, for his portrayal of the corrupt D.A.—he was solid, as usual, but his appearances were brief, and he hardly felt the evil, looming presence we needed him to be.

From the beginning, you can pretty much figure out how the movie will go. Still, the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying. I will admit the final twist did take me by surprise, but the lead-in to it is poorly executed and the whole moment is over-dramatized. Bonus points for seeing the boy-toy (poor Metcalfe) put to the verge of tears, though.

To conclude: the story keeps rolling and I can’t say it ever gets “slow,” per se, but it is an overall worn-out story—one we’ve all heard time and again, and under the auspices of better scripts, better directors, and better actors. If you’re a fan of the genre, there’s simply better movies to watch.

Last Minute Taste Test:

“Oh, I just remembered one more thing…” Cue dramatic zoom on the heroine’s face, police lights flashing in the distance. “…fuck you.”

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

~ by Chris G. on January 16, 2010.

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