Michael Douglas Collects a Paycheck for Beyond a Reasonable Doubt


Of his empty, completely unnecessary remake of Fritz Lang’s 1956 thriller, writer-director-cinematographer-producer Peter Hyams explains in the press notes, “I wanted to make almost a classic film noir, except I wanted it with young people; I didn’t want it with grown-ups.” Parsed further, “almost a classic film noir” means an especially twisty episode of CSI; “young people” includes the shirtless gardener from Desperate Housewives and the ectomorphic doofus who shills for cell phones and Best Buy; and “grown-ups” equals Michael Douglas collecting a paycheck. Set in Shreveport, Louisiana, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt finds ambitious TV reporter C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe), aided by his smart-aleck colleague (Joel David Moore), hatching a convoluted plan in which he implicates himself in a murder to prove that a slick D.A. vying for governor (Douglas)—whose assistant (Amber Tamblyn) is sleeping with C.J.—is manipulating evidence. Lang’s film, the last he made in the U.S., exposed the immorality of the death penalty; Hyams’s retread offers only more plot and longer, louder car chases. Though she’s the youngest of the principals, 26-year-old Tamblyn (as anyone who saw her incredible performance in 2006’s Stephanie Daley can attest) proves she is the only one who can act like an adult.