Not enough people went to see True Crime in theaters. Wasn’t Clint Eastwood too old to be playing a guy whom a variety of glorious women, from the middle-aged Diane Venora and Laila Robins to the young Mary McCormack and Lucy Liu, find attractive? Could the onetime Man with No Name credibly play a brilliant crime reporter, Steve Everett, with an ironic turn of phrase and an incurable habit of screwing up both his personal and professional lives? The respective answers to those questions are: hell no and hell yes. True Crime features one of Eastwood’s best and most entertaining performances–and his work as director is utterly assured.
The story (from Andrew Klavan’s bestselling novel) gives Everett the last-minute assignment of interviewing a condemned man (Isaiah Washington) on the eve of his execution. The prisoner, a born-again Christian and exemplary family man, has everything the reporter lacks except a shot at seeing the next sunrise. Everett sets out to get him that, yet far from making a beeline to the exculpatory evidence that will save the life of his “client,” this very tarnished hero has to spend a lot of the next 24 hours contending with the baggage he’s accumulated through drinking, wenching, and familial neglect. (A Pirandellian note: Everett’s daughter is played by Eastwood’s own daughter, Francesca Fisher-Eastwood, and her mother, Frances Fisher, returns for a feisty cameo as a prosecutor.)
This is a good one that got away. Don’t let it happen again. — Richard T. Jameson