Sony // 2009 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // August 26th, 2009
Based on the book by the best-selling author.
Editor's Note: This is a WalMart exclusive DVD release, available only in stores and at NoraRoberts.com.
Lifetime plus Nora Roberts sounds like a match made in heaven. Both are appealing to a largely female demographic who apparently want their women strong, their men hunky but unobtrusive, their careers high-powered, and their kids easy to handle. Oh, and apparently they want to be stalked and then rescued, if what little I've seen on the channel is representative. In the case of Nora Roberts' High Noon all these elements come together in an unconvincing mess of a film that will leave even diehard fans of Roberts' work scratching their heads.
High Noon (which seems like a silly title since it can only draw negative comparisons to Gary Cooper's famous film) follows Phoebe McNamara (Emilie de Ravin, Public Enemies), an expert hostage negotiator who must care for her young daughter and agoraphobic mother. Although things seem to be going well when she meets rich-and-gorgeous Duncan (Ivan Sergei, The Break-up), Phoebe is also being stalked by a psycho that wants to torture and kill her.
After the relatively painless Nora Roberts' Northern Lights, this is what I really expected of a Nora Roberts' adaptation from Lifetime. We have a too-perfect guy who just happens to be rich and cute. We've got an impossibly competent heroine who's got an amazing job, a supportive boss, as well as a kid and mother to take care of, but since she's superwoman it's (relatively) easy. It's obviously supposed to be a pro-woman "look what us gals can do" kind of film, but instead it just sets up another highly improbable, unrealistic depiction so that women who can't juggle all that stuff get to feel bad about themselves.
Oh, and it doesn't work on any other level either. The police procedural stuff is painfully unrealistic. In the very first scene Phoebe gives a beer to a possible jumper. She later explains that it was okay since it won his trust, etc, but a hostage negotiator giving beer to a suicidal man with a gun is about as realistic as this movie gets. Then there's the suspense aspect. It's pretty obvious from the beginning how the stalker storyline is going to play out, and predictability coupled with the lackluster police details makes the plot totally uninteresting. We also get a romance to distract us from the rest of the plot. Sadly, they fall in love almost instantly, he seems totally perfect, and there doesn't actually seem to be any chemistry between Sergei and de Ravin. That pretty much leaves the audience with nothing to watch.
Speaking of Sergei and de Ravin, they're both obviously better than this movie. You can tell Sergei is because he has a bored expression on his face for ninety-five percent of the movie (I'm sure part of that is because his character is all but nonexistent), and de Ravin telegraphs her talents by being as overly serious as possible for all of her scenes as a cop. She can't just be competent, she has to show everyone (including the audience) that she can do her job better than a man. It's not a bad performance, per se, but it is pretty misguided. The rest of the cast, including Cybill Shepherd, come and go in a blink, leaving very little in their wake, which is a shame when you've got talents like Shepherd at your disposal.
The few scattered bits of action are okay, but they're obviously not integral to the story so they don't have enough oomph to keep action fans interested. Luckily, for those few who end up absorbed by the romance, they're not intrusive enough to be bothersome either.
As of this writing, the Nora Roberts movies made for Lifetime are only available at Wal-mart stores, and the overall package is on par with other Nora Roberts releases. The video transfer is pretty good, with a little bit of grit to it that's probably intentional. The audio is unremarkable, but dialogue is clear. There is also a complete lack of extras on this disc, so fans of Ms. Roberts' work will have another reason to avoid this disc.
I can't think of any reason to watch Nora Roberts' High Noon. Its story is unbelievable, its characters one-dimensional, its actors bored, and its presentation so-so. If you feel compelled to watch it, wait for a rerun on cable.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated