MURDERED INNOCENCE throws an inexhaustible supply of sophisticated film technique at the audience. But all its fancy camouflage doesn't distract viewers from deducing the solution of a decades-old murder mystery. Robbed of that central surprise, this jazzed-up thriller merely forestalls
Twenty years ago, as a youngster, Scott Baron (Craig Morris Weintraub) stood by helplessly at the stabbing of his mother (Ellen Greene), witnessed the subsequent shooting of his father by police officer Rollins (Jason Miller), and later identified his mother's lover, William Spencer (Gary
Aumiller), as his mom's assailant.
Now, after serving time for petty crime in Atlanta, adult Scott (Fred Carpenter) heads for his tragic Long Island home. Meanwhile, hard-drinking Rollins faces a full house in his jurisdiction when parole-denied Spencer busts out of Attica with a gang of loyal inmates and revenge in his heart.
A chance encounter with a sexy hitchhiker nets big trouble for ex-con Scott after his passenger, Lauren (Jacqueline Macario), shoots a masher named Bateman (Bryant Holt), who menaces them on the highway. Already freaked out about learning of Spencer's jailbreak, Scott vacillates about facing the
music in his former home, the scene of the 20-year-old crime. Haunted by the Baron case, Detective Rollins isn't forthcoming with his new partner (Donna Bostany) when Scott's name surfaces on the police blotter after the Bateman homicide. Meanwhile, loyal Lauren refuses to abandon Scott.
In a strange turn of events, Scott shoots two of the Attica fugitives while they are robbing a convenience store before heading for his face-off with Spencer. (A flashback now reveals that Spencer accidentally backed Mrs. Baron into scissors wielded by young Scott himself.) After Scott dispatches
several Attica escapees, Spencer holds a gun to Lauren's head, forces Scott to disarm, and pistol-whips him. Arriving in the nick of time, Rollins guns down Spencer and then places the Bateman murder weapon in dead Spencer's hand. Feeling guilty about shooting Scott's innocent father, Rollins
allows Scott and Lauren to exit without fear of prosecution.
The intriguing MURDERED INNOCENCE raises troubling questions about the aftershocks of a heinous crime and lifts the lid on a Pandora's box of official cover-ups. What it fails to exploit properly is the irony of unjustly jailed Spencer's predicament. In stressing Scott's trial by fire, the film
soft-pedals Spencer's fury at being locked up for murder in what was, at best, a third-degree manslaughter case. The director is so busy fidgeting with showy flashbacks that he can't get a grip on the zigzagging screenplay about the different ways guilt manifests itself.
Although neither Aumiller nor Carpenter seems up to the challenge, this thriller should have explored the weird karmic bond between traumatized child-eyewitness and vindictive interloper; there's a suggestion that young Scott wanted to punish Spencer for messing up his happy home life with mom and
dad. Compellingly conceived but weakly acted and superficially directed, MURDERED INNOCENCE plays out like an extended episode of "Unsolved Mysteries." (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: MURDERED INNOCENCE throws an inexhaustible supply of sophisticated film technique at the audience. But all its fancy camouflage doesn't distract viewers from deducing the solution of a decades-old murder mystery. Robbed of that central surprise, this jazze… (more)