Call me a bitter old cynic, but after seeing such refreshingly well written and original movies such as “American Beauty” and “Being John Malkovich”, it is increasingly difficult to appreciate the formulaic Hollywood standard that we have been happy enough to spend our money on in the past.Co-writing team (The Rock) David Weisberg and Douglas Cook do a by-the-book job of “Double Jeopardy”, the story of beautiful Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd – Kiss the Girls, A Time to Kill) who is framed for the apparent murder of her husband Nick (Bruce Greenwood – The Sweet Hereafter, The Lost Son) who is having an affair with her best friend Angie (Annabeth Gish – Mystic Pizza, Beautiful Girls) and facing the collapse of his business empire.
Once Libby cottons onto her false imprisonment and gets out of jail (is six years all you really get for murdering your spouse these days?), she seeks out her nasty husband who has taken on a new identity (although surprising high profile which struck me as an incredibly stupid idea – surely someone would recognise him??). Libby figures that since you can’t be tried for the same crime twice (although I doubt that it would apply to killing the same person twice!), she can find her much-loved son Matty and kill Nick at the same time.
Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, Men in Black), in a role which is so reminiscent of “The Fugitive”, plays the hardened, downtrodden parole officer, Travis Lehman, who has to track her down. He doesn’t have a lot to do except magically appear in every place that Libby was in a few hours earlier. Just how does a penniless parole officer with no authority from his boss to go trooping around the country?
One of the unfortunate things about formulaic Hollywood scripts is the predictability but this is no surprise (excuse the pun). The other thing that irks me is the lack of credibility that the story or characters can have that we are expected to go along with. I was surprised that Libby was convicted so easily – yes, there is blood everywhere but why wasn’t it tested to find out who (or what) it belonged to? Why didn’t anyone question Nick’s underhanded business dealings and consider that the lack of his body may have been a ploy to escape his creditors? I won’t go on – I’m sure you get my point.
Director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Paradise Road) does what he can with what he has. The acting was as I expected although Ashley Judd can be too sickly sweet and it would have been more believable if she could have looked considerably different (or at least emotionally distressed) after being in prison for six years. At least the British Columbia scenery is stunning.If you want to see this movie, look out for the preview shown before “Being John Malkovich” and you’ll get the entire story in one minute. What were the producers thinking when they agreed to have every plot point shown in the ad? It leaves nothing for the imagination. (Natasha Wood--filmnet.org.au)