Samuel L. Jackson - Wikimedia
Meaning of Reasonable Doubt
In a criminal prosecution, it must be determined that there is no valid reason other than the guilt of the defendant that could explain the circumstances of a crime. Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is the dilemma that hangs over Assistant District Attorney Mitch Brockton when he must act as the prosecutor in a fatal hit-and-run case.
The movie “Reasonable Doubt” was filmed mostly in Winnipeg, Manitoba and uses all Canadian and British actors who are not familiar to American audiences, with the exception of Samuel L. Jackson who plays a villain, Clinton Davis, in this film.
The main character, Assistant District Attorney Mitch Brockden (Dominic Cooper), and his wife Rachel (Erin Karpluk), are sitting on top of the world with their newborn baby girl and Mitch on the road to become the next District Attorney. Mitch had a night out with the boys and drank too much, but still drove his SUV home. He realized he had hit something and got out of his car to find a man lying in the street. Panicking, he used a nearby payphone booth to call in the accident and left the scene and the dying man. It was unclear to me whether the man had been lying in the street prior to Mitch’s hitting him, or if Mitch had hit him when he was walking. This was never clarified throughout the film.
Later that evening, the man’s body was found in the car of Clinton Davis (Samuel L. Jackson) who claimed that he found the man in the street and was taking him to the hospital. The coroner, however, determined that there had been blunt force trauma to the deceased’s head, which caused his death. This, to me, was not consistent with death by hit-and-run driver. Mitch offered to be the prosecutor in the case, and managed underhandedly to lose the case for lack of evidence, knowing in his heart that Davis was innocent and should not take the rap.
Canadian Actor Dominic Cooper - Wikimedia
Mitch’s background is actually from the wrong side of the tracks, which he has worked hard to overcome. He has a stepbrother, Jimmy Logan, who is a felon, which he did not reveal when applying for his job at the D.A.’s office. His rationale was that his mother had never married Jimmy’s father, so there was no legal paperwork in existence that could track that down. He and Jimmy were not close.
Female detective Blake Kanon (Gloria Reuben) was suspicious of Clinton Davis as a possible suspect in a series of killings that had occurred. Mitch went on his own witch hunt to learn more about Clinton Davis’ activities. It came to light that he attended meetings, sometimes two each night, to aid parolees who were trying to turn their lives around. It also happened that Davis’ wife and child were killed several years ago by a parolee. Both Detective Blake and Mitch were able to determine that parolees were the object of the serial killings which had occurred.
It is at this point when a series of implausible happenings occur. Mitch receives in the mail a laminated copy of his calling card with blood on it. He remembered that he had dropped his wallet when he knelt over the body in the street, but assumed that he had picked up all his cards.
Also implausible - Davis visits Mitch’s wife on an evening when Mitch is working, frightening her, after pretending to be a police officer needing some information from Mitch.
Also implausible - Mitch’s stepbrother Jimmy reluctantly agrees to act as a lookout when Mitch breaks into Clinton Davis’ house while he is at one of his parolee meetings. Aiding and abetting could land Jimmy behind bars once again. Mitch struck gold, however, with what he found inside.
Also implausible - Mitch’s voice calling in the hit-and-run accident at the pay phone is compared positively to a later call which Mitch made to Detective Blake.
I hate to denigrate the work of a Canadian company, but I know for a fact that we in the States have superior detective stories to view, that have well-thought-out plots and premises. The film was a great disappointment to me.
Canadian Actress Gloria Reuben - Wikimedia
It seemed to me that Gloria Reuben (who portrayed Detective Blake Kanon) was not given a very big part, which made her seem like the token female cop who must be seen in all current detective films. With a little re-writing, her few scenes could have been totally erased without affecting the story at all.
I do submit, however, that the acting was of superior quality. Of course, Samuel L. Jackson always gives a good account of himself, especially as the bad guy. Dominic Cooper, whom I have never seen before, kept me intrigued, believing that he could pull this off, even with the bad script that was handed to him. These two great actors kept me there to the very end.