Ossus Library Index Action Movie Index

DOUBLE JEOPARDY

Directed by Bruce Beresford (1999, Paramount Pictures)
Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd

A woman wrongly sent to prison for killing her husband goes after revenge when he steals her son.

 

 

3 stars

February 24th, 2008 on DVD for the second time

 
    I didn't remember this movie fondly, but it held up much better than I remembered. Still, there was nothing really stellar about the movie. It was fun to see her hunt for her "dead" husband, but even more fun to see her drive the car off the ferry into the water!  

 

3 stars

September 23rd, 2000 on Video

 
    After a slow start, the movie was a lot of fun.  We got to root for both main characters, even though one was chasing the other.  The turnaround at the end was a little strange, though.

Ashley Judd was not convincing to me at the beginning.  There was something wrong, from the way she acted at the opening party, through the unconvincing sex scene (where they made a lot of noise), and especially when she finds the blood and knife on the boat.  The scenes seemed okay, but the acting was way below par.  The court scenes were mercifully short, because I thought they were also substandard. 

Fortunately, the rest of the movie makes up for the shortcomings at the beginning.  Judd's character, Libby, sends her son to live with her best friend, and goes to prison.  I loved her "friends".  They were so direct that they were funny, and they were even compassionate with her. 

When her son and best friend disappear, though, she tracks them down, and by a twist of fate, she discovers that her husband is alive.  It's a bit of a stretch, though, as one word by her very young and excited son sets her on the path to revenge. 

She does her time in prison, six years, and gets early parole.  Her parole officer, Layman, doesn't trust her, because he believes, rightly, that she will go off in search of her son.  He says she will get a job, but we never see her with that.  She spends all her time searching for her son, and, as a sideline, her "dead" husband.  There is a funny scene where she is trying to figure out the internet, and a young man offers to help her, hitting on her.  His reaction is priceless. When he finds out that she was in prison. 

Libby goes to her son's school, but they won't help her.  So she beaks in, and gets caught, but not before she gets some information about her friend.  Layman comes out to get her, and I wonder how he enforces curfew when he is with her for so long.  He locks her in the car on the ferry, and goes upstairs for a drink.  For some reason, he left the keys in the ignition, where she could easily reach them.  I guess he figures she wasn't foolish enough to drive the car off the ferry.  He was very wrong, as she tried unsuccessfully to ram the handcuffs off by driving the car back and forth towards a post.  The funniest scene in the movie is where she bumps off a little red hatchback, which sinks into the river.  Nobody notices.  They notice, though, when she drives Layman's car off the ferry, with him in it.  He uncuffs her to save her life, but she escapes, with his gun. 

She tracks her best friend to a house, but discovers that her best friend died in a gas explosion years before.  We immediately know that it wasn't an accident. 

This time, she uses his love of art to track down her husband.  She attends a bachelor auction, and buys him, in a terrifically executed scene where she buys a dress using somebody else's account, and gets into a bidding war with one of his mistresses.  Layman turns up at both the art house and at the auction.  But he just misses her both times.  She spends the night running from the police, and turns up the next day to collect her son.  But her husband fools her, and she ends up in unconscious in a coffin at a cemetery.  It takes a while for her to get out, but she still has Layman's gun, which she somehow kept while traveling by plane.

She looks grim as she approaches her husband's office, but gets pulled aside by Layman.  It was really nice to see Libby fall apart when he catches her, because she was so very close.  But he has discovered that her husband is not who he says he is, and is actually her husband, whom she supposedly murdered.  They both know that a person cannot be convicted of the same crime twice, so she could shoot him dead in full public view, if she wanted to.  But all she wants is her son. 

There is a strange scene in the office, where Layman tries to blackmail her husband, which seems to try and confuse the audience, because the entire sequence doesn't make sense.  But Libby walks in just then, and, after a fairly intense fight scene, ends up shooting her husband. 

The last scenes show her reuniting with her son, who still recognizes her.  She was afraid that he wouldn't.  But the line her son offers "they told me you were dead" makes it seem like he never believed his father.  It should have been "I thought you were dead". 

The action sequences were very good, and many of them had humour to them, as well.  Note the car scene on the ferry, and the other car scene where Libby smashes his car with her pickup so that he can't follow her.  Great thinking.  Strangely enough, one of the scenes that usually doesn't work for me in action movies, did very well here -that is the chase scene on foot.  The beach was a good way to keep the cops falling down, because the footing is so uncertain. 

Layman's character is also very sympathetic.  After crashing his car while driving drunk, his wife took their daughter and left him with nothing.  He is just trying to do his job, a job that he doesn't like.  He can't give second chances, because he was never given a second chance.  Whenever Libby slipped through his fingers, we were grateful, because we know that she's innocent, but we also know that Layman is getting in more and more trouble.  I think that's good in a movie like this.  There is no real bad guy in the chase between Libby and Layman.

Aside from being billed as The Fugitive part 3 (where part 2 would be US Marshals), because it was a very similar plot, it was quite well done.  Not the best movie I've seen, by far, but highly entertaining, with fairly well constructed characters.

 
   

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