Clichéd yet moderately entertaining thriller.
Directed by Peter Howitt (Laws of Attraction); penned by Peter A. Dowling, writer of the Jodie Foster starred Flightplan, Reasonable Doubt is a thriller that doesn’t really offer up anything new to the genre, but provides a moderate amount of entertainment fodder that will undoubtedly go down well on TV and cable channels for the masses.
Sam Jackson is certainly this films main selling point, and while he does give an expectedly good performance, his complicated character, Clinton Davis, never gets enough screen time to allow the Oscar-nominated actor to display his talent to its fullest. Davis is a tortured soul, who was forced to watch his wife and child tortured to death in front of him, and has now become a serial-killer, yet we never get to feel anything, one way or the other, towards this character, which I feel was a wasted opportunity.
District Attorney Mitch Brockden (Dominic Cooper) has just been celebrating another courtroom victory in a bar, and intends to get a cab home, but the neighborhood is rough and he spots some men eyeing up his car. He decides to take a chance and drive while over the limit, but ends up hitting a man who runs out in front of his car. He calls 911 from a payphone then drives home, but next day he discovers another man has been charged with murdering his hit and run victim. Feeling guilty, Mitch takes the case and deliberately does a poor job, allowing Davis to walk free, but he soon hears of another murder that he’s sure Davis has committed, so decides to investigate. Davis starts to warn Mitch off and threatens to kill his wife and newborn baby, but Mitch persists, ending up a suspect himself.
This story is far from an original one and is cliche-ridden from start to finish, but Cooper and Jackson do just enough with their characters to help keep it interesting. Director Howitt, did keep up a decent pace, and the time went by fairly quickly, but it was the writing that let this film down, by giving us more-of-the-same, and then starting to get sloppy during the last act.
We’re expected to believe it’s extremely easy to sneak in and out of a police station, and then break out of the same one a little later. The ending was also a bit of a letdown, with nowhere near enough suspense to keep us satisfied, and even redeem itself, as some films can do, by having a strong finish. You certainly won’t mind watching Reasonable Doubt, you just won’t remember you have.