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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.33%
Worth A Look53.13%
Average: 25%
Pretty Bad: 11.46%
Total Crap: 2.08%

6 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Changing Lanes
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by EricDSnider

"A big-budget Hollywood flick that actually provokes thought."
4 stars

Though the advertising suggests it's a suspense thriller, "Changing Lanes" is really a moral fable. It has as much character as it does plot, and far more introspection than explosions.

It's about men with too much pride, and it's about what revenge can do to a person. But it's REALLY about contrasts, opposites and dichotomies. One of the protagonists is black and one is white, but the film's point is that people are usually made up of various shades of gray.

An insurance salesman named Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson) is buying a house in a desperate attempt to stop his wife and kids from leaving him. On his way to a court hearing, he has a car accident with Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck), a high-powered lawyer with a wife and a mistress who is on his way to a different court hearing.

Gavin -- selfish and cold but not yet as morally bankrupt as his corrupt bosses -- doesn't have time to deal with trading insurance information; he has to get to court so he can cheat a charitable foundation out of its money. He flees, and as a result of the accident, Doyle is late to his hearing. All is lost for him -- except that in his haste, Gavin left an important file behind.

It doesn't occur to Doyle to use it as a bargaining chip -- his mind doesn't work that way -- until Gavin contacts him later, panicked about the file and hoping Doyle has a good enough heart to return it.

Whether Doyle's heart is good is not immediately at question. He attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (the moral opposite of the ethical wasteland Gavin works in) and truly regrets having been a bad husband. Still, good men can be driven to do bad things. The film thought-provokingly reminds us of this while also demonstrating that the opposite is true: Gavin, a decent guy who has been guided down the wrong path, might be able to turn his life around and become one of the good ones.

The suspense of the film, written in a sure-footed and engaging manner by Michael Tolkin ("The Player," "Deep Impact") and first-timer Chap Taylor, is not in whether Gavin will get the file back, because we know his intentions with it are not good anyway. The suspense is in what choices Gavin and Doyle will make, and how those choices reflect who they are. Ethical quandaries do not normally make for riveting viewing, but Roger Mitchell ("Notting Hill") directs with finesse and compassion, using hand-held cameras for intimacy while maintaining an appealing slickness.

Jackson and Affleck both could use a little more conviction in their performances. Affleck, in particular, is not entirely convincing in the last 20 minutes: His character flip-flops about seven times, but Affleck maintains the same tortured-soul facial expression.

Sydney Pollack and Richard Jenkins are excellent as Gavin's bosses, and Toni Collette connects as Gavin's secretary/girlfriend.

In the end, the film gives its characters a few too many shots at redemption, and it strains believability, particular since the rest of the movie rings so true. One accepts that in real life, it is never too late to do the right thing as a means of healing one's soul -- but a change of heart doesn't usually wipe out the natural consequences of what you've already done. Still, that a high-profile movie with big-name actors could inspire such philosophical reflection is impressive.

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originally posted: 04/17/02 06:17:33
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell effective thriller 4 stars
12/05/10 fmc Jackson is more believable than Affleck. Pollack overwhelms. 4 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner This movie has some great scenes in it. 4 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini a bit slow in places but still good 4 stars
11/03/06 AJ Muller only "slow" if you can't appreciate character/story/mood - A+ for actors and script. 4 stars
8/20/05 ES This is definately one for the forgettable pile, neither inspires nor reviles 3 stars
4/03/05 Charlie Bit Slow 3 stars
3/30/05 R.W. Welch A little too contrived but manages to hold your interest. WAL most of the way. 4 stars
8/19/04 Peter B. Very good and involving! 5 stars
8/09/04 paolo enea it is a vey good movie 5 stars
7/08/04 Denise more story then i thought it would have 3 stars
6/24/04 Daveman Fails in what it aims to achieve because of the overabundance of irritating melodrama. 2 stars
4/28/04 Chaske Faulk good movie, not bad at all 3 stars
3/26/04 Alfred Guy More characters than crashes. it was better than I thought it would be. 4 stars
3/21/04 Linda Ellis Interesting story, kept my attention. 4 stars
3/18/04 Maria I thought the show was a worth looking at!! It had a good story line. 4 stars
3/17/04 Alfred Guy Better than I thought it would be. 3 stars
7/04/03 Jim Strong performances overcome a story that eventually becomes over the top. 4 stars
5/15/03 Den Beire Dont waste time and money on this. Sam jackson is, as always, the only good thing about it. 2 stars
3/25/03 Jack Sommersby Not too believable, but the story and characters are fascinating. 4 stars
11/26/02 Matthew Smith interesting film and a good cast 4 stars
11/26/02 Punk_Ass I really enjoyed the hell out of this film, nice supirse too, I saw no trailers or reviews. 4 stars
11/17/02 snowconehead Very predictable but still decent 4 stars
11/09/02 ^ZuLu^ too bad: very forseeable, too much of a stereotype, expected more of it. 3 stars
11/09/02 Nicole Too many plot holes to be ignored....irritating and horrid 2 stars
11/08/02 TLsmooth The Samuel L. I know would have bitchslapped the ho and stole the kids. 2 stars
10/19/02 palaboy101 It will make you think twice before doing something. 4 stars
10/09/02 spyguy2 At the level of made-for-TV. Totally over-rated. 2 stars
9/20/02 Phil M. Aficionado Needs to have a more credible story line before getting up on its pulpit; just so-so 3 stars
9/20/02 Eric Affleck and Jackson are wonderful, the movie is one of the year's best. 5 stars
9/13/02 rania it is very very nice, it's ethical 5 stars
9/12/02 palaboy101 Makes you think 4 stars
8/26/02 Martin I usually love Ben and Samuel....but I too wanted that time in my life back....... 2 stars
8/05/02 David A. This movie gets very preachy--be honest and don't hold grudges. Come on! Grow up! 2 stars
7/23/02 Bueller Ben Affleck as a lawyer? Right! Next, you'll say he's playing someone who works at the CIA! 3 stars
7/04/02 KMG Makes me detest the rich even more 4 stars
6/08/02 ownerofdajoint good performance by jackson/plot goes limp at end... 4 stars
6/05/02 cleansparks great movie. samuel jackson is once again excellent. 4 stars
5/26/02 Joseph Berger Excellent movie, strong writing, good acting, especially Toni Collette and Samuel Jackson, 4 stars
5/25/02 Suzz Stoopid, boring and totally implausible. 2 stars
5/24/02 Krakanova Uninspired acting, lame (but plausable) story 1 stars
5/12/02 Benjamin Leatherman Boorrrrrrring! Blah blah blah, at the end of the day I do more good than evil. Whatever. 2 stars
5/10/02 maverick Film Afficianado's spelling lacks "credability." LOL 4 stars
5/10/02 malcolm well, i'm not a lawyer. way too many of those fuckers. 4 stars
4/30/02 Film Afficianado Implausible. Lousy script. Completely lacks credability if you are a lawyer. 2 stars
4/30/02 The Bomb 69 just kept waiting for the suspense to build and then... nothing, total Hollywood ending!! 2 stars
4/27/02 Sarah really great movie--Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson are excellent!!! 5 stars
4/27/02 JZA A decent movie, but you'll forget about it minutes after leaving the theater. 4 stars
4/26/02 Andy Enjoyable though the ending was lame, should have been a tragedy. Hollywood has no balls. 3 stars
4/24/02 Jimmy James meh, worth watching once 3 stars
4/23/02 KMG Very good movie....Affleck is a shit, SLJ is pissed off as usual 4 stars
4/21/02 Janine Lay good story line, but very slow moving and boring at times 3 stars
4/20/02 Film Guy Good movie.but way to over hyped 4 stars
4/18/02 Nick2k wow. this movie was really good. this'll make up for affleck's pearl harbor crap. 5 stars
4/17/02 El Scorcho Only 4 comments? This movie looked like it sucked ass, but was involving and mature. A- 5 stars
4/15/02 Emily great 5 stars
4/15/02 Film Dude Not bad. A bit tedious though. 4 stars
4/14/02 Akira_773 Excellent movie. Don't miss, if you value your moviegoing sanity 4 stars
4/12/02 Dmitri Tiomkin The worst kind of Hollywood "formula". The plot creaks mechanically. 1 stars
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  12-Apr-2002 (R)



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