Presumed Innocent is one of those movies that instead taking the opportunity for its own benefit, it turns around and falls a bit short than what expected from your average suspense movie. Thatís the way I felt about the film, because amidst the suspense and all of the "whodunit" syndrome, plus some great moments, it all comes to a difficult ending sequence which for some can totally screwing up your hopes for a good movie and your money's worth, but for others, it can turn out to be a good movie with a shocking conclusion, and a nice tinge of originality. Still, its a good movie, and worth watching despite the rough ending part.Lets see, Rusty Sabich (Harrison Ford) is an attorney working for a large firm, and has had a so far happy life with his wife Barbara (Bonnie Bedelia) and his kid Nat (Jesse Bradford). But all of that gets trashed when one of the counselors in the firm Caroline Polhemus (Gretta Scacchi) is brutally murdered at her home. Unbeknownst to his colleagues, Rusty had once an affair with Caroline, and now Rusty on the "insistence' of his boss Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy), he takes the case. After a few mysteries and clues, the tables are turn when a bunch of prosecutors, who are tracking his case, show up with evidence that points at him as the probable killer. So they go to trial and all the suspense goes off, as Rusty and his lawyer Sandy (Raul Julia), try desperately to find the killer, not knowing that the killer is someone closer than what Rusty thinks.
"It fucks its own moments of greatness, but it's still good"
But when that moment comes some strange things happen. The first three thirds of the script are well written, and the suspense builds up, all the way into the trial, is perfect. Though one little flaw I noticed was that Rusty, though he's being accused of a crime he didn't commit, shows almost no interest for saving himself, probably this was made to metaphorically in your mind measure Rusty in the balance of justice, though it seemed strange. One of the highpoints of course was the turn of tables, when the investigator becomes the accused and based on the evidence found, an innocent man could be convicted of a crime he didn't do. That was classic suspense.
But the possible problem lies all the way in the third quarter. Since the film is based on the novel by Scott Turow, itís highly possible that the screenwriters Alan J. Pakula (To kill a mockingbird, All the president's men)-who also directs- and Frank Pierson (Dog Day Afternoon) had altered a few details on the ending. I say maybe since I havenít read the novel yet. Still, the important scenes of the ending sequence, the glass, and the weird hammer, take you towards a sense of weirdness, especially the last one, because it brings you to an altered conclusion that can probably disappoint a viewer who was expecting a more climatic ending. But the sequence in this scene is a very predictable situation since it could happen to many people, and what would they do if a similar situation like this one presented. All of this backs the conclusion, which was very shocking, and makes up the rest of the washout the film experiences towards the end.In the end, I recommend watching this film with a clear state of mind. Expect a regular drama, and not a highly suspenseful film because you'll be disappointed at the end. Just take simple and easy and it may work. I still think that the film missed its winning opportunity but despite that, I'll nail it with four stars, due to its rare originality.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5291&reviewer=235
originally posted: 04/26/01 12:19:56