1999; Rated R; 105 Minutes
Tommy Lee Jones: Travis Lehman
Ashley Judd: Libby Parsons
Annabeth Gish: Angela Green
Bruce Greenwood: Nick Parsons
Roma Maffia: Margaret Skolowski
Davenia McFadden: Evelyn Lake
Produced by Leonard
Goldberg and Richard Luke Rothschild; Directed by
Bruce Beresford; Sceenwritten by David Weisberg and
by DAVID KEYES
a critic, I leap to the opportunity of seeing fresh ideas
in the movies. Our cinema is so dependent on rehashed material
and propaganda that we seldom receive the ingenuity we deserve;
filmmakers frequently reach into the bowels of cliché-driven
stories, and pull from them the twists we can see coming
from a mile away. But every once in awhile, someone steps
up to the challenge, and hand down a story of unpredictable
twists and surprising developments. These ideas are scarce
in the modern cinema, and when the opportunity calls for
it, we should all erupt from our seats and treasure them.
course you already knew that. Fresh ideas have already made
their mark in the 1999 movie scene, including (but not limited
to) the re-inventive horror in "The Blair Witch Project,"
and the satirical, biting edge of "South Park: Bigger, Longer
& Uncut." Now comes the absurdly new idea of "Double Jeopardy,"
which assumes that one cannot be convicted of the same crime
twice, and thus sends its character out on a vendetta. Indeed,
the idea is an intriguing one--but here is a movie that
miscalculates its premise, lacks details, and does nothing
to foster the novel approach. The movie sits on one interesting
detail, and then gleefully drains its energy.
introductions certainly aren't the high point here. Ashley
Judd plays a happily-married wife named Libby, and her husband
is Nick Parsons, played by Bruce Greenwood. Both are on
a sailboat one evening, in which they have, as fellow critic
Eugene Novikov describes it, "some rockin' sex." The next
morning, Libby awakens covered in blood, which leads up
to the deck. At the top, there is a knife drenched in the
same fluid. Foolishly, she picks it up just in time for
the coast guard to see. Next thing, Libby is tried for the
murder of her husband. Evidence is overwhelmingly negative
on her part, yes, but if the movie were really as creative
as it thought, Libby would be able to use the audience as
is convicted, and sentenced to six years in prison. An ironic
twist of fate sends her to a cell next to that of an ex-lawyer,
who gives her some useful advice, after she learns that
her husband never died. The law says you can't be convicted
of the same crime twice--when Libby is paroled, she can
kill her husband, and cannot be convicted of it. This eventual
case scenario forces Travis Lehman, a parole officer played
by Tommy Lee Jones, to scour the area in search of her whereabouts
before she does something she'll regret.
Jeopardy" is not a bad movie. It has flaws, but the majority
of them have nothing to do with the performance of Ashley
Judd, which is credited with not being over-the-top or careless.
Judd touches her role with light honesty, and brings reality
to the situation, defending herself to the bare bones, even
though the evidence against her says otherwise.
an intriguing plot theory, though, one cannot help but feel
that this is merely a new idea covering up conventional
thriller treatments. One of the clues occurs in the first
few minutes: ever notice how so many thrillers with murder
happen to take place aboard boats on the sea? Another is
the casting of Tommy Lee Jones as a cop on the pursuit of
a criminal, which has been seen in "The Fugitive," "U.S.
Marshals," and maybe others. I really don't mind efforts
to cover up plot conventions with new intriguing premises,
but it amazes me how unbelievably this concept stretches
its details. The implausibility of situation only flattens
the action sequences, which are shot well, but muddled down
by obvious outcomes. The big finale, which I choose not
to reveal for fear of hate mail, consists of several quick
shots hammered together, so relentlessly awkward and confusing
that, if the rest of the movie were similar, audiences would
be forced to endure a second round of "Bats."
Matrix" is out on video. So is "The Blair Witch Project."
Rent those if you want to know what new ideas are all about.
"Double Jeopardy" is simply a window-dressing blockbuster
masquerading as something new and inventive, and therefore
should not be taken seriously.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.