Judd in the Nick of time
Double Jeopardy
Review by Ross Anthony

"Double Jeopardy" starts out rather rough and lifeless, not quite sure how to set itself up for the real story. This is where Libby (Judd) is framed (or did she really do it?) for the murder of her hubby Nick. She's quickly herded off to prison where she spends six (or was it eight?) years in what seems like 30 seconds. From there she's released to an institution for parolees which is overseen by Tommy Lee. This is where the movie really starts (so show up to the theater at least 30 minutes late).

Double Jeopardy gives Libby the right to blow Nick away (if he's still alive) without worry of a second trial ("not true" says one real life lawyer I've heard). Anyway (for the purposes of the film), we're left to wonder if this sweet loving wife, would do it. But Libby is more interested in finding her son. So she busts out of the parole halfway house and begins breaking all kinds of laws. Which leads to two or three big action sequences. The first making me painfully embarrassed for the filmmakers. The second being very enjoyable and almost perfectly believable. At that moment I was willing to change my mind about this picture. But an absurd cemetery scene near the end buried any hopes of that.

Tommy Lee is awesome as always. Ashley Judd is unusually un-inspired, though on occasion delivers a zinger. For example, when getting hit-on by some unknowing male she responds, "Sure, I'd love to sit and chat with you, but I've just got to call my parole officer first." The movie for the most part is a hodgepodge of drama, action and even comedy. It just doesn't flow, giving the feel of too many writers and/or directors.

The film would have benefited from a longer more in-depth prison experience, during which we could have seen Judd learn all the tricks of the trade. Tricks that would come in handy later. To do this, time could be taken away from the frame job sequences. Or trash that whole section altogether (it's simply not compelling, even if you don't know if she really killed him or not). Start in prison, tell the frame-job story in flashbacks (if needed). Kill and bury the cemetery scene. Develop Lee's conflicting motivation to both arrest and assist Judd -- that's the most interesting aspect of the film anyway.

Double Jeopardy. Copyright © 1999. Rated R.
Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd, with Bruce Greenwood and Annabeth Gish.
Directed by Bruce Beresford.
Written by David Weisberg and Douglas S. Cook.
Produced by Leonard Goldberg at Paramount.


Copyright © 1999 Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:13:08 PDT