Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: "Double Jeopardy" Saved by Lead Actors (Happy B'day, Ashley Judd)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 38 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Double Jeopardy (1999)
Running time: 105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – R for language, a scene of sexuality, and some violence
DIRECTOR: Bruce Beresford
WRITERS: David Weisberg and Douglas S. Cook
PRODUCER: Leonard Goldberg
EDITOR: Mark Warner


Starring: Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Benjamin Weir, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish, Roma Maffia, Davenia McFadden, and Spencer Treat Clark

Elizabeth “Libby” Parsons (Ashley Judd) is happily married to Nicholas “Nick” Parsons (Bruce Greenwood) and has a young son, Matty (Benjamin Weir). Libby and Nick enjoy a getaway aboard a yacht Nick purchased for her as a gift, but the first night out, Libby awakens to find Nick missing and blood splattered all over the boat. The only clue she has is a bloody knife – cue the Coast Guard arriving with Libby holding the bloody weapon.

A jury later finds Libby guilty of Nick’s murder, although his body was never found. Before going to prison, Libby passes custody of Matty to a friend, Angela “Angie” Green (Annabeth Gish), who later disappears with the boy. When Libby finally tracks Angie down, Libby gets a startling clue that Nick may be still alive. A fellow inmate informs Libby that as she has already been convicted for Nick’s murder, she can’t be prosecuted again for the crime if she tracks Nick down and really kills him. To be tried for a crime in which you’ve already been convicted is double jeopardy. When Libby leaves prison, she goes on a cross-country quest to find Nick, with her parole officer, Travis Lehman (Tommy Lee Jones), hot on her trail.

Double Jeopardy doesn’t qualify as a first rate thriller. Director Bruce Beresford helms the picture as if it were a television movie, and Tommy Lee Jones basically plays the same kind of role he made famous in The Fugitive (1993) and U.S. Marshals. Ashley Judd plays Libby Parsons pretty much the same way Wesley Snipes plays Blade – with an attitude and speaking in a monotone. But Double Jeopardy is still exciting, and after a very (very) slow start, the film takes us down a whirlpool of horrible events, shocking twists, and a more than a few other surprises. You can’t help but root for Libby, and the script, in spite of many holes (like why didn’t Libby just dye her hair or try not to be so recognizable to the law pursuing her), it does make you care about the protagonist. Even when Tommy Lee Jones is playing a familiar character, he’s such an attractive and magnetic presence on film (and even in interviews).

Double Jeopardy is ultimately a worthy entry in the sub-genre of adult thrillers. It even had jaded me cheering on a woman who finds that hatred is the fuel that drives her relentless motor.

6 of 10

Sunday, February 19, 2006


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