True Crime

After the sudden death of a colleague, grizzled reporter Steve Everett (Clint Eastwood) finds himself having to do a story on a death-row convicted murderer Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington) before he is executed at midnight. His nose for a story tells him that the man is innocent, but can he prove it in the space of twelve hours? There’s a lot about this film that works well: the prison warden and guards are not stereotypes, and are played with honesty and compassion; the scenes showing Beachum saying goodbye to his wife and daughter are heart-rending and free of mawkishness; Denis Leary even does an intense yet restrained portrayal of Everett’s frustrated and betrayed editor. However, the film’s race against time is clichéd, the climax is predictable, and the epilogue is trite. And all throughout, I couldn’t help but think that Eastwood was too old for the role of Everett. Still, it’s a strong film, and an emotional plea in opposition to the death penalty.