A new psychological thriller co-stars Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman, teaming up again for the first time since their 1997 hit Kiss The Girls. Their new military court drama is High Crimes.
Successful attorney Claire Kubik and her carpenter husband Don seem to be a very happy couple; but their peaceful life falls apart when Don is suddenly arrested and Claire begins to learn of his secret past.
It turns out that, before their marriage, Don (whose real name is Tom) was in an elite commando team and he's accused of murdering innocent villagers in a top-secret anti-guerilla raid. Convinced that the charges can not be true, Claire enlists the help of maverick ex-military lawyer Charlie Grimes.
Morgan Freeman plays Charlie Grimes, the 'wild card,' as he calls himself; Ashley Judd plays Claire, adding yet another confident but conflicted woman to her resume of characters.
"To me, Claire was just flat out competent: just a real competent and capable person," she says, "and I know that with Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, and Norma Jean and Marilyn, I've played characters who've been hurt. That rings very true for me. They're all coping and dealing; that's what the plot is and what moves everything forward. Everyone copes very differently and to me that's what's exciting about reading scripts and getting revved up about taking on a new challenge. I'm not sure what makes Claire competent, but I know that you can be completely broken hearted and competent at the same time."
High Crimes portrays less-than heroic actions by American soldiers, something very much at odds with the current patriotic attitude toward the military. However, Judd believes audiences will appreciate the film's point of view.
"American movie-goers are naturally intelligent and understand that our government is a human institution and therefore capable of great things as well as being, at times, inherently flawed because human beings are flawed," she says. "This is entertainment. It is a diversion. I am an actor, not a genius who walks around pontificating brilliantly on these matters, but my opinion is that skepticism is very healthy. Cynicism is not as helpful, but skepticism is useful because it keeps us alert and keeps us participating; and things happen that none of us should be proud of. We all know that there are many things that happen about which we are abundantly proud as well, so that's my opinion."
Co-star Morgan Freeman says the film taps into a traditional American attitude of questioning authority.
"It seems that we're always on one side of that fence or the other," he says. "When we need the cops and the military, of course, they're good guys; but when things settle down, after that we start looking into the background of the good guys and see all the things they did that made [their accomplishments] possible. 'You didn't do that, did you?' But I think you need to ask because power corrupts."
Director Carl Franklin agrees, but insists that he did not set up the soldiers and their officers to be the villains of the film.
"It reveals several sides because it's a question mark as to how we deal with the military right up until the end and I certainly can't divulge the ending," he says. "But it is something that points directly to some of the allegations that we're hearing about American foreign policy and military activity, period - in anybody's foreign policy. I think it actually opens up for us somewhat. "
High Crimes features Jim Caviezel as the husband who may also be an assassin; and Amanda Peet plays the heroine's resourceful sister.