Movie Reviews: True Crime




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     Warner Bros. (2 hr. 11 min.)
     A burned-out investigative journalist sees a chance to redeem his failing career when he accidentally discovers that a death row inmate is innocent of a murder he's supposedly committed. Now he has less than 12 hours has to prove it before the inmate's scheduled execution.
     Clint Eastwood, Isaiah Washington, Denis Leary, James Woods
Bottom Line:


     Former convict Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington) happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's blamed for the murder of a convenience store clerk that happened during a hold up gone awry. The evidence is overwhelmingly against Beachum. He was found standing over the victim's body. The victim owed him money. And the community is screaming for blood -- because a black man murdered a pregnant white woman.
     Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this suspenseful and thought-provoking drama about injustice, personal redemption and the death penalty. Both Eastwood's and Washington's characters are tarnished men trying to redeem their lives.
     Looking a little long in the tooth these days, Eastwood plays veteran newspaper reporter, Steve Everett -- who is assigned to write a simple human interest story about Beachum's final hours. But nothing is ever simple for Everett. He's a train wreck waiting to happen. His marriage is falling apart. He's sleeping with his bosses' wife and he drinks too much. Needless to say, Everett has a knack for embarrassing blunders in both his professional and personal life. However, by preventing Beachum's impending execution, Everett feels that he can atone for all his past screw ups -- but the problem is no one believes a drunk.
     Eastwood has long abandoned his Dirty Harry kick-ass persona -- which is missed in scenes where some little twarp like Denis Leary starts busting his chops, but these days Eastwood characters are flawed. And it's those frailties that make Eastwood's and Washington's characters work in this picture.
     Washington's performance is powerful, moving and affectionate. As Beachum and his wife (Lisa Gay Hamilton ) prepare to say their final farewells in his cell, Beachum's 5-year-old daughter asks her mother if they can come a see Daddy tomorrow. Wrenchingly, Washington has to explain that he'll be with Jesus tomorrow. The scene is impressive and devastating. Washington is better known for supporting roles in Spike Lee productions, but Eastwood's True Crime is Washington's finest hour.



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