True Crime (1999)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Isaiah Washington, LisaGay Hamilton
Synopsis: Can an over-the-hill journalist uncover the evidence that can prove a death row inmate’s innocence just hours before his execution?
Clint Eastwood is one of the better directors working in America today, even though he has more of a commercial inclination than many of his contemporaries. So it’s something of a surprise to see him attached to such a poorly conceived movie. He plays Steve Everett, an over-the-hill recovering-alcoholic reporter who picks up a ‘last hours of a death row inmate’ story when the colleague working on the story inexplicably crashes her car as she checks her make-up and re-tunes the radio while driving through a force 10 gale. Everett has a nose for the truth, we are told, and his nose gets twitching when he starts looking at the facts of the prisoner’s case. No-one thought about the potato chip stand, you see. This cues the start of a race against time – Isaiah Washington’s date with death is just twelve hours away – to prove the inmate’s innocence. Everett’s quest is complicated however, by the breakdown of his marriage in the wake of the discovery of his affair with a colleague’s wife.
True Crime is entertaining enough on a purely bubble-gum level, but you’ve got to be really forgiving to ignore all the implausibilities and plot holes that keep arising. Eastwood the actor is miscast, for a start. He was 69-years-old when he made this – too old to be doing topless scenes, that’s for sure – and he’s never really believable as a selfish, self-destructive loner. And we never see enough evidence early on in the story to persuade us he has enough proof to suggest Washington is innocent (other than that unerring nose). Near the end of the film, a character who earlier had delivered an impassioned speech against ’white folk’ like Everett suddenly does a complete about-turn and joins him on a high-speed chase across town to prevent the midnight execution. If it was me, I’d have phoned the guy who could halt the execution rather than embark on a drunken joyride that sparks a police chase. Wouldn’t have been quite as exciting though, would it?
If you’re in an undemanding and forgiving mood you might well enjoy this flick – Eastwood is always good value for money, even when he’s in a dud – but if a lack of logic is the kind of thing that winds you up, then this isn’t for you.
(Reviewed 8th February 2012)