The limited release film REASONABLE DOUBT was the first movie I've ever seen with a title that perfectly captured the my sentiment towards watching it. With a singular fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (it read, "Contrived and predictable yet fairly tense..."), I was certainly hesitant to see it. The cover featured Dominic Cooper and Samuel L. Jackson; Dominic Cooper doesn't really have that "lead actor" thing going yet (because his first name isn't Bradley), and Samuel L. Jackson is doing his typical "B-List white movie star needs a black counterpart and I love getting paid" role.
But I'm sitting down, so I'll watch it anyway.
The film itself has a pretty interesting concept (spoiler alert for both of you out there who will actually end up seeing this movie). The classic "prosecutor who never loses a case" (Cooper) accidentally runs over a dude while drunk driving, and does everything in his power to cover it up. A man (SLJ) is arrested while bringing the body to the hospital, Cooper is assigned to prosecute SLJ, and quickly blows the case without revealing that he's the one who did the hit-and-run. After SLJ is deemed innocent, Cooper realizes that SLJ was actually torturing the hit and run victim before Cooper interrupted with his bumper. Cooper needs to expose SLJ without exposing himself (not like his penis but like the fact that he ran over a dude while driving drunk).
I thought this was a fairly cool premise, and it's actually kind of original, especially for a tiny-budget-with-an-even-tinier-box-office-gross movie like this. And then it... doesn't really execute on it. It's the only thing the film really has going for it. It was definitely enough to carry most of the film for me, but by the end my excitement for the premise had worn thin and I was ready for it to be over. As an example, it has that black chick who's in stuff. She is showing her range by playing a tough cop working with our "hero," Cooper, Attorney at Law. Her first line in the film is, "Fucking paperwork." You'd think that would have been SLJ's first line. Wasted opportunity there.
Cooper doesn't really work as the "hero" of the film: in the first ten minutes he's driven drunk, killed a dude with his car, and fled the scene. He spends the next twenty minutes doing everything in his power to cover it up. And for the remaining hour, we're supposed to root for this guy. Why? We find out that SLJ only tortures and kills recently paroled criminals who are likely to strike again, while Cooper hit someone who he thought was an innocent person and left him for dead. How is that any better?
What's really most disappointing about the movie though is the ending. To set up the last ten minutes for you, Cooper is in an interrogation room and under arrest for the vicious assault of his step brother, which SLJ tricked the cops into thinking he did, and SLJ is chilling outside Cooper's house about to chop up Cooper's family. Cooper beats up a guard and is able to get out of the station incredibly easily. Like way too easily. And then he SIGNS HIMSELF OUT OF THE GODDAMN LOT IN A STOLEN POLICE CAR. The gate guard says to him, "See you later counselor." Does this guy not know that Cooper's under arrest? And if not, how does he not know? I do not understand. But that's not even the most frustrating part.
Cooper rushes home in the car (the whole time I'm hoping that he'll run another person over), eventually gets to SLJ before he kills Cooper's family. Then the black chick, who figured everything out at the last minute and then rushed to Cooper's house, shoots SLJ in the head, killing him. Typical ending there, yadda yadda. So what do you think the closing scene will be? Will they arrest Cooper for abuse of power, escaping police custody, multiple counts of trespassing, and, oh right, killing someone while he was driving drunk? Nope! The last scene is him just chilling at home and inviting his step brother over to finally meet his wife and daughter. And it also seems like they're living in a bigger house than before. So I guess the moral of the story is, feel free to hit-and-run as long as you're a white lawyer. Thanks REASONABLE DOUBT. You've taught me so much.