Retro Film Review: Double Jeopardy (1999)

in #aaa2 months ago


Thanks to Hollywood, most people in the world are more familiar with US laws than the laws of their own countries. That includes "Double Jeopardy" – legal concept which prevents people from being repeatedly tried for the same crime. This concept was used as the main plot gimmick in Double Jeopardy, 1999 thriller directed by Bruce Beresford.

The plot of this film begins in the state of Washington where Libby Parsons (played by Ashley Judd) is married to local tycoon Nick Parsons (played by Bruce Greenwood) with whom she has a five-year old son. Her idyllic life shatters when Nick mysteriously disappears with all the evidence suggesting his violent death and Libby as the murderer. After being for tried and imprisoned for murder, Libby discovers that Nick is alive and that he staged the crime in order to collect insurance money and start new life with Libby's best friend Angela Greene (played by Annabeth Gish). Disgraced and humiliated, Libby is determined to seek vengeance, knowing that she can kill her husband without fear of being prosecuted, thanks to "Double Jeopardy" rule. After six years she is released under parole, but her efforts to locate Nick and Angela are hampered by Travis Lehman (played by Tommy Lee Jones), her relentless parole officer.

According to most legal experts, the concept behind the film - murder becoming legal thanks to "Double Jeopardy" rule - couldn't hold water in real life. The way the screenwriters treat the law is in many ways similar to way they treat intelligence of the viewers. Plot is the series of contrivances and implausibilities and even those viewers who haven't seen the trailer (where the entire plot was telegraphed in full detail) won't have any problems in determining how the story will unfold. It looks like Double Jeopardy was initially conceived as some a parody of Fugitive. Unfortunately, veteran Australian director Bruce Bereseford treats it as a straight-forward thriller, with little care for the predictability of the plot or preposterousness of the action scenes. Main actors also don't seem to care about the film. This is especially evident in the case of Tommy Lee Jones, who was probably aware that he only repeated the role of determined lawman from Fugitive. However, unlike Fugitive, there was little chance for Jones to get an Academy Award so he wisely chose not to bother with some great acting. Viewers interested in intelligent or entertaining thrillers are also going to make a wise choice if they skip Double Jeopardy.

RATING: 2/10 (-)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on February 14th 2005)

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