FILMS

Prime-time movie

PATRICIA HLUCHY March 29 1999
FILMS

Prime-time movie

PATRICIA HLUCHY March 29 1999

Unforgivable Eastwood

Films

TRUE CRIME Directed by Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood must be going through his late-life crisis. How else to explain this 68-year-old actor and director casting himself as a swaggering newspaper reporter and unrepentant womanizer, the kind of guy who goes on about his unfailing “nose” for a story while lunging at a 23-year-old damsel? And, shame on Clint, he actually has her responding, despite the accordion folds in his neck and a face job that seems to obstruct his smile. If his latest movie were any good, all that might be halfway tolerable. But True Crime is as dreary as its title. It’s hard to believe that the director of the Oscar-winning Unforgiven (1992) could produce and direct a film so flat-footed, so false—call this one Unforgivable.

It opens with Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington) on San Quentin’s death row for murder. True Crime quickly suggests, through lashings of melodrama, that reformed criminal Beachum is not only innocent, but the personification of good. Enter investigative reporter Steve Everett (Eastwood), whose career has all but gone down the drain because of his drinking, and who remembers only sporadically that he has a dishy, much younger wife and a preschool-aged daughter.

What follows is utterly predictable. Amid stock newsroom details—including a ferociously cynical editor-in-chief, played by James Woods, and a fellow reporter who pulls a mickey out of his jacket—Everett insists on reinvestigating the six-year-old murder on the day Beachum is to be executed. Of course, he roots out details that police, a murder trial and an appeal failed to unearth. Just how bad does this movie get? Well, it climaxes in a car chase.

P.H