Reasonable Doubt is yet another addition to the long line of forgettable direct-to-video films to be released over the years. The plot is contrived, the characters laughable one-dimensional and the performances, albeit forgivable due to the screenplay and dialogue, isn’t the best.
Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Crime, Drama
Lionsgate | R – 91 min. – $24.99 | March 18, 2014
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
“Proof is the burden.” Actually, apparently a sensible plot was an even bigger burden…
Mitch Brockden (DOMINIC COOPER) is a hotshot assistant district attorney with eyes on the big chair in the D.A.’s office. He’s got a solid conviction rate and with a beautiful wife (ERIN KARPLUK) and newborn daughter at home, life is good. But it all takes a nosedive after spending a night in a bar with a couple of colleagues, Brockden is impaired and about to take a cab home when he notices a couple of lowlifes eyes his expensive SUV, so he chances it and drives home drunk. He manages to dodge a cop car but in turning into an alley, runs over a man who had leaped in front of his car. Mitch gets out and finds the man in poor condition, to say the least, and uses a pay phone conveniently nearby to call 911 rather than risking his cell phone. Knowing how it looks, Brockden leaves the scene and heads home.
The following day Brockden sees a news report that a man named Clinton Davis (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) has been arrested after police found a dead body in the back of his van and as you guessed, it is in fact the same guy whom he had hit the night before. Brockden attempts to get all the info he can from lead detective Blake Kanon (GLORIA REUBEN) who says that Davis claims he was merely rescuing a hit and run victim. Despite Brockden’s “best” efforts, after meeting with the D.A., it’s determined to charge Davis with first degree murder.
Obviously this puts Brockden in more than a quandary and his life begins unraveling, not to mention his quasi step-brother Jimmy (RYAN ROBBINS), whom nobody knows about least of all his office has recently been released from prison with each being resentful of the other. But this cold relationship warms up later on, won’t reveal how but it comes out of left field with a single scene to even signal it.
In any case, the prosecution moves forward and with each witness, Brockden attempts to poke holes in his own case which is hard to do especially when Davis’ own lawyer isn’t exactly the best of the bunch. Brockden manages to do enough damage although in doing so, thanks to a linguistic witness who analyzed the 911 call, points the finger at him which doesn’t go unnoticed by Kanon. But thanks to his “efforts”, and a surprise witness, the case against Davis is dropped.
However, Brockden’s troubles are hardly over after he discovers when a body turns up with similar wounds to the hit-and-run as well as numerous others Kanon had made connections to, and Brockden realizes that Davis is in fact a serial killer and attempts to tail Davis to find proof of his guilt. Davis catches on and plays his wild card, literally, which is Brockden’s business card he left at the scene. Whoops. And Davis places a picture of said card in Brockden’s home in the middle of the night while they slept. In a phone conversation, it’s a clear message for Brockden to leave him alone.
From this point it’s more or less a game of cat and mouse and honestly, albeit not great, kind of passable entertainment, that is, until we get to the finale which was beyond stupid and a certain character’s actions are beyond laughable and even worse, one big cliché to go along with utterly predictable. Sure, the other 70-minutes of the movie (w/o credits this thing is a very brisk 80-minutes sans credits) aren’t very good but at least watchable, yet with this ending it makes me wonder why someone like Samuel L. Jackson, obviously with some downtime in between playing Nick Fury, would even take on such a lame role.
With regards to the performances, there’s nothing great here. Dominic Cooper might be a fine actor but he’s not given a whole lot considering the stupid decisions his character makes; Samuel L. Jackson is quite subdue for once and I don’t recall him going ballistic despite playing a serial killer; and Gloria Reuben doesn’t get much to do with such a limited part that at the same time is necessary to the thin story. Also will mention Erin Karpluk, an unfamiliar name to most but who is wonderful on the Canadian television series, “Being Erica”. Not much for her to do except act happy, concerned, scared, etc but worth noting.
Besides nothing noteworthy with the acting, the script by “the co-writer of Flightplan” as the back cover proudly states, his name is Peter A. Dowling by the way, it’s a plot that moves far too quickly and takes what could’ve been an insightful moral dilemma, something with depth and tension not unlike another Samuel L. Jackson drama-thriller, Changing Lanes, co-starring Ben Affleck. That did it right… Reasonable Doubt.
In the end, there is beyond, ahem, a Reasonable Doubt one should see this half-baked thriller. And while it is generic, I could accept that, but the finale was so bad that it killed the minimal goodwill I had for this film.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
Behind the Scenes (11:52; HD) – This featurette provides some interview footage intertwined with footage from the movie as well as BTS, chatting about the story, characters and the usual stuff. Nothing noteworthy but provides at least a little background.
Deleted Scenes (9:59; HD) – Three scenes failed to make the cut, or were trimmed, and while nice, doesn’t expand the story.
Interviews with Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic Cooper and Gloria Reuben (35:54; HD) are some expanded interview footage not shown in the BTS featurette. Each one is fairly interesting though they go through the routine barrage of questions about their characters, the plot and what drew them to the project. I will say Jackson is somewhat honest hoping some generic elements would be fixed, so he at least doesn’t B.S. things.
Theatrical Trailer (2:33; HD)
Also included is an activation code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Lionsgate releases Reasonable Doubt onto Blu-ray with a 1080p high-definition transfer and presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. The transfer on this isn’t great and is a bit soft in many places, is at least half decent with well balanced colors and even darker scenes, black levels are stark with no noticeable artifacts or pixilation while detail levels are OK, though nothing great.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track provided is solid enough showcasing the common-sounding thriller score while dialogue sounds clear coming primarily from the center channel while the few action elements, like gunfire or bloody-curdling screams, help round out the lossless track getting the front channels working. The rear speakers are relegated for ambient noises and the LFE barely kicks in at all or is too subtle to even notice.
OVERALL – 2.25/5
Overall, Reasonable Doubt is yet another addition to the long line of forgettable direct-to-video films to be released over the years. The plot is contrived, the characters laughable one-dimensional and the performances, albeit forgivable due to the screenplay and dialogue, isn’t the best. The Blu-ray release comes with an OK set of features while the video/audio transfers are serviceable.