Saturday, January 25, 2014

Reasonable Doubt Review

Reasonable Doubt Review
I totally meant to write this review last night. I had rented "Reasonable Doubt" this week, preparing to watch it and review it last night. It was a long day at work, and I got incredibly tired. I didn't want to miss a moment of it, so I went to bed and finished it today. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss a minute of the film, I love a good old fashion revenge flick. I know when I discussed this film's trailer several months ago, I disliked how the trailer seemingly gave away the entire movie. I was only half-right on that point, there is much to learn from the characters, which made the film a little bit better.

One major plot-point "Reasonable Doubt" gets very right is how it handles Samuel L. Jackson's Davis. He's not just some psycho who is killing just to kill. Davis' life has been terrible, he's experienced the worst tragedy anybody could fathom, something you would not bless on your worst enemy. We never see what happened, but through Jackson's performance, we definitely feel it. He's completely justified in his anger and his revenge, even though he doesn't go about it in the best way. "Reasonable Doubt" isn't black-and-white, Jackson is such a great, gray character and he was brought to life by the great Sam Jackson. I wish the rest of the film was just as great.

Okay, let's back up a bit. "Reasonable Doubt" focuses on a hotshot lawyer in Chicago named Mitch Brockden (Dominic Cooper). He's very good at what he does, holds a very impressive record. One night, after a night of celebration and a lot of drinking. He calls a cab to take home when he sees two men looking at his car. He gets them away, then decides to drive home despite being impaired for the task. He doesn't want his car stolen and if he drives drunk this one time, nothing bad will happen, right? Brockden is soon involved in a hit-and-run. He gets started, makes bad decisions to protect his reputation and leaves the victim. What Brockden didn't know was that someone was watching from afar, soaking in the entire ordeal.

Brockden meets Davis when Davis is brought in and charged with the hit-and-run instead of Brockden. Brockden knows what he's doing is wrong, but he can't bring himself to admit what he did. As Brockden looks closer into Davis' past, its clear Davis is not as innocent as he seems to be. As the case is dropped on Davis, Brockden secretly pursues Davis to see who Davis really is. Sadly what ensues is a lot of familiar "wrong place at the wrong time" cliches and big narrative and logic flaws. While the performances by Jackson and Cooper are both strong, they are let down by a silly script.

I can't stand it in movies like this when lawyers and police make dumb decisions. It takes me completely out of the movie. Why not a television show or movie about smart cops? Whats wrong with smart cops going after smart bad guys? Does Hollywood honestly think that the audience could not take that sort of thing seriously? I wondered why "Reasonable Doubt" went straight to VOD instead of getting a major release. This is an overblown "CSI" episode, nothing more. How silly does it get? How about a lawyer being able to subdue a policeman more than half his size in mere seconds? How about the villains warehouse being so close to his house and the lawyer figuring it out while he's in the villain's house looking for clues? Decisions with the storyline are made out of convenience not cleverness. It was that kind of storytelling that took me right out of the movie.

I am not sure what I was expecting from "Reasonable Doubt" but one thing is that I did not expect to have such a strong character in the midst of a typical script. Had the script been written in an intelligent manner, this really could have been something. But Jackson made this film, at the very least, watchable. The idea of Nick Fury going head-to-head with Howard Stark was a fun concept. But sadly, that is all "Reasonable Doubt" adds up to, good ideas and concepts that never come to fruition.

FINAL GRADE: C-

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