Directed by Carl Franklin, starring Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Jim Caviezel.

Can life for attorney Claire Kubik (Judd) get any better? A fast track career, a partnership in the offing, ideal home and a great looking hubbie called Tom (Caviezel) who's a carpenter - and really good with his hands outside the work shop too? Except it's all a lie: Tom is really Ron, a US marine who went AWOL after being accused of a village massacre in El Salvador. Lifted by the Feds during a Christmas shopping spree, Tom/Ron is brought to a Marine camp for trial, leaving Claire to try and make her way through the legal minefield of a military court with former Army lawyer turned lush Charlie (Freeman) as her guide.

In the past Franklin has made stylish crime movies likes 'One False Move' and 'Devil in a Blue Dress' but his first foray into conspiracy thrillers is a major disappointment. 'High Crimes' has its fair share of decent courtroom scenes but the legal tussles are far better than the emotional ones - a wooden Caviezel never adding up to much in the part of the husband with another life. Judd does her best but any hope of consolation from her onscreen relationship with Freeman is let down by his performance, which just recalls his past characters in 'Se7en' and 'The Shawshank Redemption'.

But even all those shortcomings are forgivable when compared to the movie's denouement. With one of the most audacious twists imaginable, Franklin tries to show that there's a lie within the lie of Ron's life. Trouble is, you're left wondering are you thick or whether the pieces don't add up because Franklin has rushed it all in a bid to add some much needed tension to a very predictable movie. Either way 'High Crimes' is best saved for a DVD night in - at least that way you'll probably get the luxury of a Franklin commentary and won't have to torture yourself waiting for an explanation of the ending.

Harry Guerin