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  Publicity Stills of
"Beyond A Reasonable Doubt"
(Courtesy of InnoForm Media)

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Peter Hyams
Cast: Michael Douglas, Amber Tamblyn, Jesse Metcalfe, Orlando Jones, Joel Moore
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: GV & InnoForm Media
Rating: M18
Official Website: http://www.beyondareasonabledoubtmovie.com/

Opening Day: 26 November 2009 (Exclusively at GV Plaza & Vivo)


A high-profile criminal lawyer finds his bid for the governorship in jeopardy when an ambitious rookie journalist begins suspecting him of tampering with evidence in order to secure his many convictions in director Peter Hyams' remake of the 1956 Fritz Lang classic. Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) has a reputation for putting criminals behind bars, and with elections approaching he seems a shoo-in for governor. But just how clean is the district attorney's record when held up to scrutiny?

When hungry reporter C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) frames himself as a murder suspect in hopes of catching Hunter in the act, the two fierce rivals become caught up in a treacherous game of cat and mouse. But Assistant DA Ella Crystal (Amber Tamblyn) has no idea about her boyfriend C.J.'s latest assignment, and as the evidence against both men begins to pile up she begins to suspect that she's in mortal danger. And she's right. Now, as Ella discovers irrefutable truth of both C.J.'s innocence and her boss' shady dealings, the fate of two men rests in the hands of one woman whose life could be taken at any second.

Movie Review:

Peter Hyams’ remake of the 1956 Fritz Lang film "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" couldn’t have arrived at a more prescient timing. Indeed, it’s about that time of the year when reviewers take stock of the best and worst films, and this is one film that is practically a shoo-in for the latter category.

Whereas the Lang original was a condemnation of capital punishment in the United States, Hyams’ remake is at best an all-too simplistic debate on journalistic ethics. TV news reporter C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) discovers that star district attorney Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) has been planting evidence to get his convictions. In order to expose Hunter’s deeds, Nicholas frames himself for a murder he did not commit, filming his own evidence-planting every step of the way. A Pulitzer is what Nicholas tells fellow reporter Corey (Joel David Moore) he’s after - so intentions wise, it’s really not all about morals.

But if the film isn’t a lesson on journalism, it’s not much of a thriller either. The film is surprisingly devoid of any narrative tension, even in scenes where you’d expect writer/director Hyams to inject some form of suspense. Nicholas’ reenactment of the 'crime' is milked for some misplaced humour than for any form of genuine excitement. Ditto for Nicholas’ and Hunter’s courtroom scenes, which again forsake any sort of lively back-and-forth for a perfunctory, by-the-numbers exchange between the two opposing sides of counsel.

All this is not helped by Hyams’ deliberate old-school approach to the film. In his attempt to make 'a classic film noir', Hyams has opted for the deliberately washed-out colour palette of the film (Hyams was also the cinematographer of the movie) and David Shire’s intrusively jazzy score. But all this serves to do for the already badly-paced film is to confirm its glorified TV-movie status that makes one wonder why anyone even thought this was worthy of a big-screen release.

And that’s not counting the terrible acting in the movie- save for Michael Douglas. If Metcalfe’s bland and insipid acting in this film is anything to go by, Metcalfe is unlikely to find his brief 'Desperate Housewives' days of glory turn into a bright movie star career. Just as unremarkable is co-star Amber Tamblyn, who plays Metcalfe’s love interest and unlikely ally in the movie. Ironically, for a film which Hyams has said he wanted to make with 'young people, not grown-ups', the only sign of life in the movie is from 'grown-up' veteran Douglas. This is certainly not his best work; but his is the only lively performance amidst a cast of unexceptional 'young people'.

Perhaps to make up for its lethargy, the film throws in a last-minute twist that is as unconvincing as it gets (can one say, too little too late?). By the time the film crawls to an end, the only thing it offers its audience is a pack of un-reasonable doubts why it ever got made. If timing means anything, then maybe the only reason it exists is to fill up a reviewer’s 'worst ten of the year'.

Movie Rating:

(Beyond a reasonable doubt, one of the worst movies of the year)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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