True Crime (1999)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Detective Film  |   Release Date - Mar 19, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 127 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by John L. Messina

True Crime, Clint Eastwood's 21st effort as a director, features his usual markings, but also a few new wrinkles. The adjustments seem dictated by the advancing age of Eastwood's usual leading man -- himself. While this makes True Crime an interesting outing for Eastwood, he still has a couple of adjustments to make. The crime drama carries Eastwood's stamp by offering a flawed hero, efficient storytelling, quality acting, and a moody style with both light and dark moments. What sets the film apart is that the suspense comes primarily from an intellectual race against the clock and not a set of physical action pieces. Eastwood's Steve Everett uses brains, not bullets. In Magnum Force, Dirty Harry says, "A man's got to know his limitations," and late in his career, Eastwood the director seems to realize that Eastwood the actor is too old to make a convincing action hero. But he doesn't seem to realize that he's also too old to make a convincing stud; the fact that every woman in the film wants to bed Everett undermines the believability of the plot. In fact, the plot as a whole is fairly incredible. Screenwriters Larry Gross, Paul Brickman, and Stephen Schiff make it a bit too easy for Everett to solve this case, with much of the unfolding mystery coming off as contrived. On the plus side, the characters are all believable as full-fledged humans, thanks to the actors. All of the performances are excellent, especially that of Isaiah Washington) as doomed convict Frank Beachum, whose born-again Christianity comes off as heartfelt. Still, Everett's personal story is more compelling than the execution story, and Eastwood's best moments come in the comedic scenes opposite James Woods and Denis Leary.