Russell Gates is a Vietnam vet on death row for killing a policeman. His childhood sweetheart, Pam O'Brien, is stunned to learn this and does not believe he could commit such a crime. She ... See full summary »
"Beyond The Call" is a good example of how strong, committed actors can get mileage out of a script that is both hackneyed and occasionally unbelievable.
Sissy Spacek and the terrific David Strathairn are both in top form as a psychologically damaged Vietnam veteran on death row for the killing of a policeman, and the woman who tries to get him to plea for clemency and finds out that there's more to the "killing" than meets the eye.
Arliss Howard is also fine as her increasingly jealous husband, a Vietnam vet himself who has put much emotional energy keeping his war-related emotions under control, and feels nothing but contempt for a fellow vet who becomes a convicted criminal because he can't do the same. Yet this husband isn't quite the same by the time the film is over.
Despite these performances, the script is generally predictable and many of the scenes between Spacek and Strathairn would be mawkish in lesser hands. But these two are so attuned to each other as performers that you are moved nonetheless. The once big false note is a scene between Strathairn and Howard that may be necessary to bring about the desired changes in Howard's character, but it's completely unbelievable.