True Crime (1999) – Review

2 Stars

Clint Eastwood strikes out with the thriller True Crime, a maudlin adaptation of the bestselling novel. Despite a handful of good scenes, mainly those with James Woods and Eastwood, the writing often strains credulity. This is most evident in a third act that is so outlandish it threatens to veer into parody. However, you can almost feel Clint and Co. attempting to recreate something akin to Sidney Lumet’s masterpiece The Verdict.

Journalist Steve Everett (Clint Eastwood) has been sober two months, but things are still going badly. Steve’s marriage to Barbara (Diane Venora) is barely holding together, and his editor (Denis Leary) hates him, since Steve has been having an affair with his wife. A chance assignment finds Everett interviewing death row inmate Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington). When Everett uncovers evidence indicating Beachum may be innocent, he must race against time to uncover the truth.

True Crime badly suffers from the cinematic white-savior troupe. While intentionally done on Eastwood’s part, he having changed the convict to an African American instead of Cacasion as in the book, it’s an off-putting trend that dominated dramatic films during the era. A big problem with the film is Eastwood in the central role. The role was originally to be played by George Clooney before the director decided to star as well. This is the rare case in which Clint would have been better served focusing on one job and leaving the matinee idol stuff to the kids.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Isaiah Washington, Denis Leary, LisaGay Hamilton, James Woods, Bernard Hill, Diane Venora, Michael McKean

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