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A Mixed Bag
gradyharp31 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
There are so many questions raised by this film that it is difficult to review it. The original screenplay by Douglas Morrow (1956) has been 'updated' by writer/director Peter Hyams, and while the concept of the plot is a strong one, it requires rather savvy actors to make it work. Aside from Michael Douglas as the DA of questionable ethics and court proceedings, the rest of the cast is a rather ill-prepared group of nascent actors in need of more experience than in the fluff films from which they came.

C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) enters the Shreveport scene complete with a prize for reporting, eager to make it big and earn a Pulitzer: he seems to have an equal obsession with chasing young pretty women and finds one in the person of Ella Crystal (Amber Tamblyn) who happens to be the assistant to the DA. Nicholas, and his entertaining co-worker Corey (Joel David Moore), are on to something - they believe that the DA tampers with forensic evidence to win cases, focusing on phony DNA samples rather than thorough investigation. Out to debunk the DA, Nicholas plans to plant evidence at a crime scene, a stunt he will later use to expose the wannabe Governor DA, and in order to make this work, he places himself as the 'evidential perpetrator' of a crime. He manages to draw Ella into his circle of lust as well as his overall plan to unseat the DA. Things change and the ending could have been surprising in the hands of better actors.

The film is heavily padded with the requisite car chases and explosions and derring-do of the good cop/bad cop type, but the real problem with the movie is the weak presence of Metcalfe and Tamblyn. If the viewer can tolerate the confusing aspects of mixing high humor in the first part with the supposed suspense in the second, then the film is worth the entertainment. It could have been a stronger film with a cast of professionals.

Grady Harp
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Fascinating failure--great idea, poor execution, it's that simple.
secondtake26 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

Michael Douglas is impeccable whenever he has a role with brutal power, with cunning, with speechmaking the cuts through the listener, with selfish focus. And he is all these things here.

But he is properly the third name on the credits, and the two leads, both little known to me, are young and capable and unexceptional actors. With the three of them, there might have been a decent movie possible.

The hook here is an amazing, simple, audacious idea. A young reporter (Jesse Metcalf) is suspicious of a District Attorney (Douglas) who is faking evidence, so he sets himself up as the perp in a crime he didn't commit to trap the DA at his game. So it looks like a hero at work, an undercover reporter who is going to prove justice, Al Pacino style. And he has both a buddy (the not so handsome sidekick) and a girlfriend (Amber Tamblyn). The girlfriend, strategically, is on the staff of the DA.

But things go wrong. Very wrong. The DA is more ruthless than they realized. The girlfriend ends up taking over the investigation of her own boss, and ends up uncovering, with some improbability, some flaws in the reporter's character, too. The movie ends with a terrific (not) two word send off, probably meant to appeal to young people who have wanted to say those two words to lots of their boyfriends and girlfriends themselves. Or have.

Lots of crime thrillers have plots like this, good ones with twists that are calculated but great entertainment. This one is repeatedly hamstrung by bad writing, however. And this bad dialog is sometimes acted poorly, so that you almost groan out loud. It's especially painful because the plot is pretty intense if you give it a chance. In fact, sometimes it almost seems intentional the way a character acts a little flippant or silly, and yet it struck me as out of place. This might make it impossible to really get the depth of what was intended. Which is too bad. A remake done well would have the potential to really work.
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Plot full of holes, plus acting full of nothing equals bad movie
natw22 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Gee, let's see... 1. Why didn't C.J.'s defense attorney subpoena C.J.'s boss at the TV station, who would have told the jury that C.J. had been pushing a story about the DA planting evidence? That would have at least put reasonable doubt in the jurors' minds. 2. Michael Douglas warns C.J. that prison phone calls are monitored (duh...). But apparently his flunky co-conspirator detective wasn't aware that parking garages serving the DA's office would probably be videotaped. Besides, the donut-creating "terror" scene was stupid. 3. C.J. was smart enough to develop a brilliant plot involving a fake interview that earned him a journalism award, but so dumb he gives his girlfriend a copy so that she could later make the connection between his fake story and the murder. Take these mistakes, throw in some poor acting and a totally unnecessary car chase and you have "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt." Better yet, don't watch the movie in the first place, and save yourself an hour and a half.
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Only Douglas Worth a Look, Rest a Waste of Time
dglink2 January 2015
Peter Hyams's 2009 remake of "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" has a low-budget amateurish air, that is only underscored by the mediocre cinematography and the inept performances of the two leads. Restless from conducting coffee taste comparisons, an ambitious investigative reporter suspects that the District Attorney is planting last-minute DNA evidence to win an unbroken string of convictions. With information taken from the DA's office by a willing young assistant and the help of his buddy and co-worker, the reporter frames himself for a murder. He intends to reveal the corrupt District Attorney when the manufactured evidence is introduced into his trial. Jaws will drop at the ridiculous proposal, which is intended to win a Pulitzer, and at the ease of gaining access to confidential information. Heads will shake in disbelief as the reporter openly queries a police officer about the murderer's shoes, clothing, injuries, and weapon and then proceeds to purchase all the required circumstantial evidence to implicate himself. That the police, the judge, the jury, or the viewers are gullible enough to swallow this nonsense is pure fantasy.

Fritz Lang directed the 1956 original of the same title with a cast that included Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine; however, that earlier decade was a period when purely circumstantial evidence could convict the innocent. Today, modern forensics, DNA testing, and social media have reduced the odds of wrongful convictions, especially with evidence as trumped up as the remake suggests. While the murder trial was in progress, Facebook alone would have turned up witnesses to the reporter's purchases and whereabouts, and any episode of CSI shows what forensics can accomplish.

Like a fresh-faced Boy Scout rather than an ambition-driven reporter, hunky Jesse Metcalfe is out of his depth in a shallow role. His unconvincing love interest, Amber Tamblyn, has a passing resemblance to the young Diane Keaton, but in looks only, not in talent. Only Michael Douglas retains his dignity; as the ruthless DA intent on a governorship, Douglas plays these smooth villains as though born to them. His effortless performance is all the more sterling in comparison to the non-support he receives from Metcalfe and Tamblyn. Joel David Moore as Metcalfe's sidekick brings some life and humor to a thankless role.

In today's world of DNA testing, Photoshop manipulation, social media awareness, and police forensics, Peter Hyams's reworked script is incredulous and beyond absurd. To coin a phrase, the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese. Nothing and nobody is believable. A gratuitous, poorly filmed car chase does little but help extend the film's running time 25 minutes beyond that of the original and create a plot twist. Yet another "solitary woman alone in an empty parking garage" scene will elicit groans; DA assistants should see more movies to avoid these clichéd situations. Any defense attorney with a correspondence-school education could locate witnesses and evidence to prove his client was faking. Any judge worthy of sitting on the bench would wince at a lengthy string of last-minute DNA introductions. Any jury told to convict only if the evidence is "beyond a reasonable doubt" would throw up their hands. Any competent District Attorney worth his salary and certainly one as experienced and ruthless as Douglas would immediately see that he was being set up. Even a professional performance from Douglas fails to save this laughable misfire; viewers should save their time and check out the original instead; perhaps Lang, Andrews, and Fontaine made the unbelievable credible .
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A Pity - It Could Have Been So Much Better
mboyd198621 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
So many little thing about this film just kept pulling it down into the "B" film category.

The silly car chase where you knew exactly what was going to happen, the DA's policeman friend, Lieutenant Merchant, whose character was so totally over the top. And yet it had Michael Douglas in it, so you thought "Well, this has to be good, surely?".

Unfortunately, not. The main character, C.J. Nicholas's, strange partner Corey Finley who drove too fast and said weird things, the silly old woman in the bank, the odd couple digital photography guys who were simply unreal. Who made up these characters? Such a shame - it should have been a good film. Michael Douglas was pretty scary and acted as well as the mediocre script allowed him to. But overall, it just missed it's mark. Even at the very end, the very last words spoken in the film by Ella Crystal were simply, silly.
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Mediocre and disposable
Argemaluco27 September 2010
The only thing which stood out for me in the mediocre film Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) was seeing the logo of the company RKO during the opening credits.Sure, it is a modernized digital version (I wish they had kept the "retro" look), but it was still nice to see that that legendary studio keeps being active (or maybe, a nostalgic investor simply bought the rights...I do not know).Unfortunately, that trivial detail was one of the best elements from this movie, because despite the main idea being slightly ingenious, the screenplay develops it on a boring and uninteresting way, at the same time the movie also has bad performances and bland direction from the mercenary Peter Hyams.

The screenplay from Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) discards any consistency, and it makes the characters to commit stupid mistakes which go against their character and the most basic common sense.We also feel the squeaks in the narrative gears when the screenplay tries to justify action scenes or moments of suspense in order to bring some life to the inert drama and also distract us from the multiple holes from the story.This film is the remake of a film which was directed in 1956 by the great Fritz Lang (1890-1976), and I suppose that many elements from the original film would feel anachronistic on a contemporary version, so Hyams (on his work as a screenwriter) faced the ungrateful homework of conciliating old concepts with modern technology.As a consequence, we have an erratic logic where the advanced digital analysis of a photograph is possible, but at the same time, the facility of duplicating the digital content of a DVD is ignored.So, the abundance of inconsistencies such as that one, hollow characters and hasty deductions are the main elements which make Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) to be mediocre, boring and disposable.

So, in conclusion I cannot recommend this movie.It may not be bad, but it is so mediocre and insipid that I feel I could have used the time I invested in watching it doing something more interesting.
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A Disappointing Joke
rskjc9 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Really--I would be embarrassed to be associated with this movie! I was initially intrigued by the basic plot, but as the movie unfolded I found myself groaning over the poor dialog, disconnected character personalities and unconvincing acting. The premise of the movie was so good, but the details and execution, oh so poor. The soundtrack was laughable as the key subject in the film went from store to store finding the "evidence" that was to be used against him in court. The ending was painful to watch. The dramatic "twist" of the plot at the end was so ill conceived it came across not as an "ah-ha" moment, but a "you've got to be kidding me" moment. The overly dramatic "F-You" at the end was probably the worst ending moment of a film I've ever seen. Save the one dollar you'll spend at Redbox.
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Beyond a reasonable script (or acting, or directing)
LeCaptain17 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As many users have indicated before, this is not a good film. I would even go further: this is a disaster of a wanna-be-thriller.

Michael Douglas stars in a supporting role and only appears in the few courtroom scenes and two other short sequences - I'd be surprised if his shooting time went beyond two days of (really not convincing) work. The lead role has, indeed, that soap opera guy - and as someone else has rightfully mentioned, it is hard to believe no producer vetoed such a miscast: any scene he is in is unintentionally funny (while at the same time you'll start wondering early on whether this bizarre scenario is worth two hours of your lifetime).

I have no idea why anyone would call this a decent script, since this is where the whole shambles begins: it is badly written, doesn't make much sense on many occasions (including the - and this is no spoiler - "twist"), any attempt of being funny goes embarrassingly wrong, the dialogues are flat and uninspired, it's as suspenseful as opening your fridge, and beyond that: it is utterly predictable.

The directing is equally disastrous: some of the car chasing scenes remind you of 'Simon & Simon' and other unnecessary trips down Memory Lane of 1980s low-budget television. And the list goes on and on...

If I hadn't checked out this reference page on IMDb I would have thought this to be the debut work of a producer's son, possibly made for TV. It is just unbelievably bad. Don't go there.
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I liked the story
BB-1527 February 2010
Despite the almost unanimous negative reviews by viewers and professional critics, I liked "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt". Why? This movie is a combination of an old-fashioned mystery story combined with an indie film style.

I have been a longtime fan of old detective films and I also like modern low-budget independent movies like "Management" and "Little Miss Sunshine". This combination of styles; old-fashioned mystery and indie low-budget, didn't bother me.

I accepted that many of the actors were not the greatest around today, or that the lighting and sound was almost never polished and was often primitive. And that the music soundtrack was just adequate.

But what I very much enjoyed was the story itself. This is a great mystery plot which kept me guessing. And I like those kinds of stories.
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Thankyou Michael Douglas
eoinej16 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Fantastic story and plot, pathetic acting. What could have been was not and for me this just about achieves a TV afternoon thriller rating. Saved only by a sterling performance by Michael Douglas in portraying someone who could have counted Gordon Gecko as a friend.

Sadly, Michael's efforts only serve to highlight lame attempts at action, drama and humor from the rest of the cast as they blunder through a great story, sorely wasted, even trivialized in places. And somehow, even the settings seem low budget and artificial although they obviously are not. Much blame must lie with the director, but the unconvincing portrayals of the other main characters must be due to the cast as well. Watch out for a tired late night policeman and an older, female bank official for some great lesser cameos however.

The story is so good that I would gladly watch another remake although this version is in itself a "spoiler". Let the French do it next time!! Watch this movie, but don't pay.
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Suspenseful and exciting judicial thriller full of twists and turns
ma-cortes25 February 2013
This is a deep review of the justice system to reveal faults in its administration , in which a reporter allows himself to be incriminated in a killing . It is a remake of the 1956 film noir film "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" in which a writer's plan to expose a corrupt district attorney takes an unexpected turn. It deals with a young journalist (Jesse Metcalf) aided by his colleague (Joel Moore) conspires to frame himself in the murder of a woman as part of a effort to uncover a corrupt prosecutor . Reporter sets himself up to take murder rap to show the errors of circumstantial evidence and discredit (D.A.) District Attorney (Michael Douglas who also starred other judicial thriller for Peter Hyams titled Star Chamber) . With a friend holding back evidence so he can prove his innocence at the last minute, he goes to trial . But during the trial , the one man who can exonerate him gets problems and things go awry . The journalist is unable to prove himself innocent later on .

This interesting film contains judicial thriller , intrigue , plot twists , suspense and some far-fetched elements including plausible events . This is a real critical on the American justice system ; as this tale develops , a variety of submerged elements slowly surfaces to make this picture far more one of intrigue . The screenwriter has created a story that is thought-provoking and quite predictable and it works a treat in that it gets you thinking about the fact that with this kind of law ; someone really could be framed for something they didn't do . Intriguing idea sometimes doesn't hold up because of several twists and turns . The picture results to be a remake from classic film (1956) by Fritz Lang ¨Beyond a reasonable doubt¨, a brilliant and masterly exposition of American justice as part of an effort to ban capital punishment and in which Lang gets a first-hand view of Justice system , being starred by Dana Andrews , Joan Fontaine , Barbara Nichols and Sidney Blackmer . Acceptable acting from protagonist trio , as Jesse Metcalf as a young reporter who pretends to be guilty of a murder to get first-hand view of corruption , enjoyable Amber Tamblyn as his girlfriend as well as prosecutor assistant and Michael Douglas as a nasty D.A. Thrilling and atmospheric musical score by David Shire . Functional and dark cinematography by the same director , Peter Hyams , who usually is in charge of his owns photography labors . This thrilling motion picture was finely photographed and compellingly directed by Peter Hyams , though with no originality . However it results to be an inferior remake of its predecessor, a noir classic directed by Fritz Lang . Peter Hyams is an irregular director with hits (Relic, End of days, Outland, Capricorn one) and flops (Sound and thunder, The Muskeeter , Stay tuned) . Rating : acceptable and passable thriller . The flick will appeal to Michael Douglas fans .
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Average at best...
a1_andy_115 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I was a little concerned at the IMDb rating of 5.7 for Beyond a Reasonable Doubt so I kept my expectations pretty low.

Unfortunately I still found it a disappointment. The first thing that struck me was how poor the casting was (except Douglas we will get to him later). Jesse Metcalfe overacted most of the time, and when he wasn't being frantic and over the top Amber Tamblyn would come in and deliver completely flat lines. I found Joel Moore to be an unusual choice, I think his awkwardness is best suited to comedies.

It wasn't all their fault though, most of the dialogue was terrible; C.Js attempt at being funny felt forced and Ellas last line in the film made me cringe it was so pathetic. All of this was hinged on a very implausible plot that was crammed with the usual clichés. The twist at the end had the potential of surprising the audience and redeeming some of the lesser qualities of this film, but it ended up contributing to the implausibility even more.

Michael Douglas was this films only redeeming feature and unfortunately he takes up very little screen time. The way he delivers his lines really shows how great an actor he is compared to the rest of the cast (Jesse Metcalfe in particular). As a viewer you identify more with Mark Hunter than you do with C.J or Ella. Their link is vital for the plot to work but there just isn't anything between them and instead of rooting for our underdog I actually wanted Mark Hunter to get away with it.

My final gripe with this film is the editing and cinematography. There are some cuts when the characters are talking that really throws the viewer off. Lots of fast edits from wide shots to mid shots for no apparent reason, there were a couple of jump cuts when C.J was talking to Joel that just looked like mistakes. Then there is the lighting, something you shouldn't really notice because it should be part of the mood. But often characters faces or certain scenes would be in complete shadow. Apparently C.Js boss at the news station works in a dark room. It didn't feel like film noir, it just felt like badly lit subjects.

If you do decide to watch this film be prepared to roll your eyes every 5 minutes.
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Just plain stupid
sergepesic18 October 2010
This ridiculous movie represent all that is wrong with the Hollywood film industry. You take the plot line of a completely outdated 50's flick, set the story in whatever city's tourist board, gives you the best deal, hire couple of tepid and incredible uncharismatic young half-stars, add in a top billing a major star , little over the hill, and you have a movie. And what an atrocity of a movie this is. I have no intention of wasting my or anybody else's time, so I'll keep it very short.It all happens in Shreveport, LA, but except couple of minor parts nobody has a minute trace of a Southern accent. The shear stupidity of the main character makes you wont to choke him to death. The plot line has more holes than a sieve. Suspending your logic isn't enough, you have to suspend your brain to go through this garbage. Just plain stupid.
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Unconvincing and full of clichés
UlfSAndersson23 November 2009
A very unconvincing cast, including Douglas, delivers an extremely implausible story packed with clichés, with poor cinematography and old-fashioned music. I am usually OK with implausible stories and the original movie is probably good... but for heaven's sake, if you are going to do a remake, at least try to make it feel like the 21st century. The only thing the movie had going for it was a fairly good dialog (probably derived from the original manuscript to Fritz Langs original from 1956), but the lead actor and actress did a pretty poor job delivering them. I almost feel sorry for Douglas, remembering him in excellent movies like Fatal Attraction, Traffic and Falling Down, having to tarnish his good name with movies like this. I cannot for the life of me understand why he agreed to participate in such a B movie. Maybe he needed money (?) or maybe he cannot bear not being in the spotlight, but even so, he should try to make a reasonable effort. This was not up to his usual standards.
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Subpar thriller that looks straight out of the 80s...
Siamois8 December 2009
This movie is a remake but will be judged on its own merit, especially since I did not see the original.

On paper, things look good. You've got the seed of a promising story featuring several characters who could have been interesting, some courtroom drama which could have been intense, some plot twists which could have been shocking and a star lead actor in Michael Douglas who could have sold you this movie with his charisma.

But none of it ever happens. And much of the fault lies with Hyams' terribly outdated direction. While he used to direct somewhat interesting films several decades ago, Hyams has long since lost any edge he might have had and every weakness in his style which we readily forgave back in the 80s are now terribly grating when seen in a 2009 movie. The photography is downright boring, the music is cheesy, pacing and editing awful. Everything seems to come out of a made-for-TV or direct-to-video movie featuring Cheryl Ladd or some other has been.

Michael Douglas only has a few scenes and gives by far the best performance but that's not saying much in this present case, because everybody else is just terrible. Really awful. On top of that, several lines in the script are embarrassing, which makes the actors' job harder. Jesse Metcalfe and Amber Tamblyn are both the real co-leads of this flick and do absolutely nothing with their screen time. Orlando Jones is terribly miscast.

While the premise and basic sketch of the whole plot could have been interesting, neither the writers or the director made it believable. The twists along the way of the story might have been surprising for an average moviegoer in 1984. A quarter of a century later, even a lobotomized hamster will see it from a mile (provided you don't fall asleep before that).

There are so many negatives to this movie that usually it would be worth a 1. But I am raising it by one point for Michael Douglas giving a decent performance and by another point for the interesting seed of a story.

3/10 for the last movie by director Hyams I will ever watch
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Poor on Many Levels
smorin-611-99646118 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
So having watched this I can't help but feel that this could have been so much more. The story is engaging enough (if a little obvious) and does offer some suspense. However it's badly let down by poor performances, poor production and some obvious plot twists. I was particularly let down by Michael Douglas' performance. It has him going through the motions for much of the film. Jesse Metcalf is completely unconvincing as the lead character. You don't feel his character is in any way authentic and simply don't care about him. Some of the other minor performances are heavily stereotyped and particularly bad to the point where they ruin important scenes (the overly camp witness who owns the Jack Russell, the anti social computer geeks who help uncover the doctored photographic evidence). If you were like me you were just waiting for Corey (Joel Moore) to be killed meaning the conviction of CJ would be inevitable (yaaawn). Lets not get into the poor camera work and appalling mucic score played throughout. The film even employs a poor "deus ex machina" to rescue the hapless Ella (Amber Tamblyn) from being killed, after she discovers the truth. While we are on that scene....... when she's hiding from the car behind the concrete pillar you just want to scream "RUN STRAIGHT AHEAD.....IDIOT".

I don't want to sound too negative as the film is still watchable and the final plot twist does give some satisfaction. Keep your expectations low and try not to imagine how good this film could have been.....
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Doubtful quality
dbdumonteil20 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Once more,a remake of a Film Noir which was crying to be left alone."Beyond a reasonable doubt" which was Fritz Lang's final (and brilliant ) American movie has always been one of my favorites of the director ,perhaps my favorite of his American career along with "you only live once " and "fury".

To write that I was eagerly waiting for Peter Hyams ' remake would be exaggerated .But I was curious enough to have a watch.It's moderately entertaining ,with full of filler (Russ Tamblyn's daughter chased by a car) ,bad acting (except for Michael Douglas who was given a role worthy of a cartoon villain) and little suspense ,particularly if you know the final unexpected twist.

Lang's black and white gem was something like a Greek tragedy ,with immanent justice .We never feel that the hero is in jeopardy in the remake ,the scenes of the false clues seem like a game for big boys . Lang wanted to express his disgust for death penalty (reductio ad absurdum) and for the last time to show that any man is a potential criminal.Here ,we have the good guy ( good because he wants to hit the big time,to win the Pulitzer) fighting the evil prosecutor .And to crown it all, the journalist's girlfriend works for his enemy ;an enemy so powerful he does not shrink from crime .In Lang's screenplay ,Sidney Blackmer dies in a car accident, period.The Dana Andrews/Joan Fontaine relationship was much more complex than it appeared : she was devoid of sex appeal (or Lang showed her so),often all dressed in black ,displaying no passion ;in direct contrast to that ,the good time girls her fiancé met ;whereas Barbara Nichols was cupid and crude,Fontaine looked almost frigid.The new screenplay oversimplifies all that and opts for the young beautiful couple with good prospects .

Lang's screenplay was sometimes criticized for its implausibilities ;but the remake is worse for that matter.Many scenes are pathetic : the "coffee test" ,the two unbearable soon-to-be-doctors-of -computing,Michael Douglas scoffing at the prisoner in chains ,the chase in the parking lot,not to mention the "first cousin" episode.The only real good idea is the journalist's video and the idea that that poor mother's life is as important as any of ours.

Peter Hyams was responsible for "2010" a disastrous "2001" sequel;he's better at doing movies of his very own,like "the star chambers"(also starring Douglas).

Please take my advice :do watch Lang's black and white gem ;80 min only,beginning with a man walking on the death row ,and ending with a sinister telephone ring :the bell is tolling again.
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Watchable, but barely....
jb057922 February 2011
It comes down to budget, and this stinker must not have had it. Oh...I guess on a lazy Sunday afternoon it's worth the watch, but it's not a movie to get excited about. I agree with fellow previewers, it's a GREAT premise for a movie: an ambitious reporter with a knack for obtaining the inside scoop (see the masters - Redford and Hoffman in "All the Presidents men", an AWESOME movie of this genre) frames himself for a murder in order to bring down a too-good-to-be-true prosecutor who is a blue chip for governor. I mean, you'd presumably have to make this movie with an ensemble of 'dropped out of school half-way' mimes to screw it up, right? Nope. They scored Douglas, who is as charming and effective as ever, but the budget for actors ended there. The rest make valiant efforts butt fall short. Acting is stiff and rehearsed; the dialog comes way too fast, as if the actors can't wait to spit their lines out. The back and forth scenes between CJ and Ella are cliché and predictable, and there is no nuance of method acting - just memorized lines delivered in a monotone, boring fashion. Meanwhile, there a lot of goofs, and the cast and director fail to bring it all home. Consider the following cast: Chris cooper as the editor (would be a cameo but it might have worked), Josh Hartnett or even better Ryan Gosling as C.J., Claire Danes or Cate Blanchett as Ella, any of these insertions would have propped this picture up considerably. In my opinion, had I been the studio exec with rights to a movie premise so promising, I'd have kept saving pennies until an adequate cast could be assembled. Watchable but not in my top 150-200 of all time.
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Unreasonable doubt
celr10 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is a drab paint-by-numbers thriller. As other commenters have noted it's like a made for TV movie from the 80s. A TV reporter (Metcalf) is convinced that the local Louisiana DA has been planting evidence in order to win murder cases. So to expose the evil DA and have a great story to advance his career the reporter hatches a plan of such alarming stupidity that the audience can't possibly identify with him. Here it is: he'll wait for another unsolved murder to be committed and then he'll fake evidence that implicates himself, then, when he's put on trial for the murder he didn't commit, the crooked DA will fabricate evidence and he'll reveal how he implicated himself and show how the DA tried to frame him. Do you get it? He plans to frame himself in order to give the DA an opportunity to frame him. Then he'll expose the DA and have a super story for the TV news.

Now in about 10 seconds any reasonable, intelligent person can think of 100 ways such a plan could go wrong. I won't tell you how the young man's scheme goes wrong except it's bound to be one of the ways you already thought of. But I don't advise you wait around to find out which one. The acting, the dialogue and the pacing are just so bad it's no fun to watch at all. Metcalf is wooden actor and he appears at least as dumb as the plot he concocts. You almost hope he gets executed just for trying to pull such a ridiculous stunt.

He gets a girl involved (Amber Tamblyn) and though she's a better actor than Metcalf, you don't care for her either because she's dumb enough to stick by our mentally challenged hero. Only the most unlikely turns of fate and happy accidents save him from almost certain death. In one scene in order to recuse the poor sap his girlfriend has to get involved in the computer geek world. But the geeks she consults are such cartoonish stereotypes you don't believe them. They might work as super nerds in a slapstick comedy but not in a serious thriller. When I rented this movie I was hoping that there would be some tense courtroom drama, but I was disappointed. The courtroom scenes are brief and perfunctory.

Raymond Chandler, who was hired to write a script for "Strangers on a Train," commented that the plot of "Strangers" is absurd and it takes tremendous skill for a writer/filmmaker to get the audience to believe it. Hitchcock had a way of making his audience believe some pretty absurd things. Director Hyams is no HItchcock.
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A Nutshell Review: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
DICK STEEL28 November 2009
I had thought RKO Pictures was already defunct, but it's quite telling that a film from its archives got pulled out for a remake, and although not having seen the original film in the 50s directed by Fritz Lang no less, this remake had the that similar promising premise which soon gave way to ridiculousness. Suffice to say that without the twist element, it's no better than a standard, average courtroom drama cum investigative thriller that already laid out its cards and was just going through its motion to the finale. Assault on the justice system this is not to be.

Since Michael Douglas' name got a bigger font size on the poster, let's start with his character, the District Attorney Mark Hunter who is one case away from sealing his man made destiny to become governor. He's quite the confident schmuck who can mesmerize any jury and his straight convictions of the accused through circumstantial and DNA evidence, raises the suspicion of investigative journalist C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe of Desperate Housewives fame), whose research seem to point to Hunter artificially engineering evidence in his favour.

An audacious plan gets concocted, and for the sake of a Pulitzer prize, C.J. and career pal Corey (Joel Moore) decide to entrap Hunter into using his deceiving tactics against them in a real murder which they will engineer the circumstantial evidence to point towards C.J., though I wonder if the quest to become famous and climb that corporate ladder would warrant something as risky as this, and what more, the lack of purposeful planning, which allows you the audience to stay one step ahead into just what would happen next.

The second half of the movie then shifts its attention to Amber Tamblyn's Ella, while being the assistant to Mark Hunter, gets romantically involved with C.J. and decides to do a little probing herself, which of course led to her being a target. The rest I'm sure you can pretty much guess for yourself, as this just floats like a buoy in calm waters, not being the investigative thriller it can be, but something that's really, really bland and stands out like an amateur hack job.

Give it a go if you must, but don't expect anything spectacular. The obligatory action sequences all seemed too contrived, boring and pretty much illogical, such as the taunting of someone using a car. I have to admit though that the final words uttered here was quite a ballsy way to end a story, although it can also mean the same words directed at the unsuspecting audience member who didn't come expecting B-movie through and through.
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So, so... and not believable
newby_rox328 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
********* SPOILERS **********

I thought this film was acceptable.

Since the date-time information that the DVD served as digital backup of was easy to procure by other means, what was the importance of the DVD? The receipts for the articles - the knife, mask, shoes, clothes, dog, etc., or testimony from any of the counter-persons involved could corroborate the times of purchase. But, even added to the the DVD, would this have been a legal defense? Even with the buddy's testimony that this was planned beforehand, wouldn't that have been insufficient evidence by evidentiary standards? Because in the end we know it wasn't enough for the truth. Substantial plot flaw, I thought. And in the end, the assistant D.A. was a better investigator than the investigative reporter.

There were other parts of the movie involving the prison stay were a bit unbelievable and unnecessary, but the the DVD was the worst.
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Lame and predictable from the start....
german-612-19379519 December 2009
Problem#1: Peter Hyams is directing, doing the camera, producing and did write the script (his first since 20 years) and it is lame. The dialogs have been copied and pasted from other movies of the genre. Not a single sentence or word seems unique. Unless you are <18 you have heard it all before. The plot is so predictable that Dr. Watson could figure it out during Sherlock's summer holidays - no drama here. Michael Douglas talent gets wasted. Jesse Metcalfe and Amber Tamblyn should stay in TV. There even seem to be major problems in the editing, because the way certain scenes are cut, doesn't make any sense.

Best part of the movie, at least for Linux and Apple users, might be the fact that the bad cop looks like Steve Ballmer.
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A Superb Remake....
namashi_117 December 2009
Remake of the 1956 noir film with the same name, Peter Hyams directed 'Beyond A Reasonable Doubt' is a superb remake without a shed of doubt.

'Beyond A Reasonable Doubt' has tremendous shock value, which makes this thriller a winner all the way. Very surprisingly, this film has not gained any popularity, which is really sad. This film has the potential to keep hooked, but god knows what went wrong! As a Viewer, I am glad I gave this applaud-able attempt a chance.

Coming to performances,Michael Douglas is fabulous as the calculative DA. Jesse Metcalfe is first-rate. Amber Tamblyn is very sincere; very good. Joel Moore leaves a mark in a brief role. Others lend able support.

on the whole... this thriller has what it takes. The end is sure to leave you awe-struck. Must watch!
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A fine movie, 10 out of 10
derirre35711 November 2009
Wow. I am not gonna describe the plot, everybody can read about it on the main page... I thought this was a great movie. The cast is good, the dialogue is good. I didn't pay much attention to the cinematography or the music because the story got me hooked immediately. My only minor complain is the old movie cliché - we all know one cannot ignite gasoline by throwing a lit cigarette in it - the cigarette simply goes out, but since so many movies have that it is OK I guess. A couple of words about Michael Douglas. While he is not the lead he shines with the light of thousand suns. Watching him on screen feels like watching a fat, lazy shark. Or a snake. Dripping slime. He is confident and calculating, not once does he raise his voice. His performance reminded me of his work in "A perfect murder". Wow, what an actor, he really knows his stuff. If you liked "Fracture" with Anthony Hopkins chances are you are gonna like this too.
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The worst movie I've seen in 2009
matty-j-129 December 2009
Corny. Predictable. Slow. Unbearably tedious. Jesse Metcalfe. Michael Douglas.

There's half a dozen reasons not to see this movie. Need more? Wooden acting would be a compliment for most of the cast. Michael Douglas is his usual self, neither brilliant nor terrible, but it's still not enough to save this movie - he's lucky that his wife's career is steaming along. He has been reduced to the worst of the B-Grade thrillers - although I use the term 'thriller' loosely.

Jesse Metcalfe is the least convincing actor in the movie. Should have stuck to being the eye candy on some soap/drama for bored housewives. He failed to convey any of the emotions or tension required for his character. And what's with the Superman haircut??!? The plot, oh the plot. Well done it would still be tedious and predictable, but this is a train-wreck. Long-winded pointless dialog, combined with clumsy attempts to create drama and tension create the impression that this movie was made by a bunch of work-experience students.

It's so predictable as to render watching the entire thing unnecessary. Watch the first half, and you already know the rest.

I wish I hadn't watched it at all. Do not pay money, or waste hours of your life to see this film.
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