Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

cast: Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas, Joel Moore, and Orlando Jones

director: Peter Hyams

105 minutes (12) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
EIV DVD Region 2

RATING: 5/10
review by James A. Stewart

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

In this remake of the 1956 film noir of the same name, Beyond A Reasonable Doubt is a film with lofty ambitions that somehow fails to make it out of second gear. It has an air of arrogance about its cast and production that leaves the viewer believing they are watching a film that thinks it is better than them. Strange, huh..?

The original was directed by the movie-making legend Fritz Lang but, unfortunately, its modern makeover fails to shine. An investigative journalist has devised a cunning way of proving the impeccable record of lawyer Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) is underpinned by some rather underhand tactics.

Desperate Housewives star Jesse Metcalfe plays the entrapping journalist C.J. Nicholas who, alongside his colleague Corey Finlay (Joel Moore), decides to create some circumstantial evidence in a murder case in order to point the finger at himself; the idea being to prove that Hunter will tamper with the case in order to secure a conviction.

Of course, this is a recipe for a cat ‘n’ mouse courtroom drama and thriller but one that unfortunately flatters to deceive. The question that is then asked is how long is C.J. able to push the false trail? And, is Hunter onto him?

The acting and the script are serious let downs with many of the cast appearing to be uncomfortable in the roles they have been given. Douglas’ appearances are sporadic and even then he is going through the motions, knowing that he only needs to turn up in order to be better than the rest of the people around him.

What is most disappointing is that this could have been a really good film (I have to admit, I have never seen the original), the idea of framing yourself to prove the corruptness of an avaricious D.A. is an interesting premise. The possibilities for this plot were endless but Peter Hyams appears to struggle to get the vehicle moving in a single coherent direction, and what we get presented with is a mishmash of ideas with a disjointed plot not helped by clunky dialogue and poor production.

Overall, Beyond A Reasonable Doubt is decent enough, neither groundbreaking nor truly awful, just okay… Even though it is a remake its lack of originality and freshness comes across in the performances of the cast and, in the end, we are left with a stocking-filler of a movie that will find its way to Five on a Tuesday night in the next couple of years I am sure.