Double Jeopardy

Directed by Bruce Beresford
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Ashley Judd, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish.
MPAA Rating: R for language, a scene of sexuality and some violence.

Review by Matt Heffernan
September 26, 1999

In Scream, Wes Craven addresses the issue that the characters in movies always fall into the same traps because they are unfamiliar with the clichés that reveal them. If only these characters had watched any movies themselves, they would be much better off.

Libby and Nick Parsons (Ashley Judd and Bruce Greenwood) go sailing for the weekend. After one romantic night, Libby wakes up to find blood all over herself, the boat, and a knife on deck. Nick is nowhere in sight. Right when she picks up the knife (that was smart), the Coast Guard arrives. A recorded radio message from Nick to the Coast Guard implicates Libby for the murder, and she is convicted.

While in prison, Libby gets visits from her son, Matty (Spencer Treat Clark), and her friend, Angie (Annabeth Gish), who has taken custody of Matty. One day, when Libby calls Angie from prison, she hears Matty say "Daddy!", and she realizes Nick is still alive. When she gets out, she goes searching for him. Also, she is legally able to kill him, because a second conviction would be double jeopardy, and therefore unconstitutional. She has to break parole to go on this nationwide manhunt, so parole officer Travis Lehman (Tommy Lee Jones), must follow her.

If only she hadn't picked up the knife! If only the trial had been credible! If only director Bruce Beresford had realized that Double Jeopardy was a silly idea! It's often quite painful to see a film like this unfold. You know things aren't quite right when the audience collectively chastises the main character for her every step. But, rememember, this is Hollywood, and everything's going to turn out alright in the end.

At least Tommy Lee Jones is there, even if his part hardly warrants first billing. The only thing he does for the film is remind everybody how much better The Fugitive was. As for Ashley Judd, I think any woman in America would want to go to that prison. After six years in there, she looked absolutely stunning. They must have cut out the scenes with the skin care center.

One does wonder why these clichés keep appearing. Certainly the screenwriters are aware of what they are doing. I suppose if they put enough car chases in there, and keep Judd in tight clothing, nobody will notice.


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Double Jeopardy (1999)

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Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan