Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is so overheated -- even outlandish -- at times that you can't help but laugh at its histrionics.
An old pro like Peter Hyams knows how to crank up the suspense when he needs to - even the mechanical suspense this film contains. Which makes Beyond a Reasonable Doubt a movie that keeps you watching, in spite of yourself at times, to see what trashy gem might come next, right up to its misdirection-fueled conclusion.
Based on a 1956 Fritz Lang film, Hyams' version has a modern gloss of corruption and violence. This film looks at the clash of two overly ambitious men: Martin Hunter (Michael Douglas) and C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe).
Hunter is the district attorney in Shreveport, La. He's got an unbroken string of 17 death-penalty convictions and has plans to run for governor. Nicholas is a TV reporter for whom Shreveport was a career step up (from Buffalo) - but whose investigative reporting unit has just been ashcanned by his boss for budgetary reasons.
Nicholas tells his boss he's convinced that Hunter is fabricating forensic material to win verdicts otherwise built on circumstantial evidence. He wants to use a camera crew to prove it - a request his boss vetoes.
So Nicholas convinces his producer pal Corey (Joel David Moore) to go after Hunter alone - by framing himself for murder. He'll create circumstantial evidence that will implicate him in an otherwise unremarkable murder - a hooker or a homeless person. Once on trial - once Hunter has introduced obviously faked forensic proof, Nicholas will bring forward his own evidence - footage of himself planning the hoax and purchasing his props - and close the trap on Hunter.
All well and good - until something happens to Corey on his way to court and the evidence of Nicholas' innocence is destroyed.
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