Vince Vaughn finally gives a performance putting him in the serious actor category, Joaquin Phoenix is notable and Anne Heche is believable as the impassioned attorney fighting for the life of her client.
Fine, low-key performances by Ann Heche as the attorney and Vince Vaughn and David Conrad as the two men she must persuade help sustain our interest in the characters. But after the wrong turn, the story feels as forced as it once was exciting.
Vaughn labors mightily under the obviousness of the script, while managing to reveal a fragile but profound fear of being an aging frat boy who longs to realize a finer, better self, only to be petrified that quality isn't within him.
Phoenix, who was memorable in To Die For, is unearthly here as a man reduced to a wraith by miserable prison conditions and hopelessness. As an actor, he seems to have abandoned his body entirely in order to communicate only through his spirit.