Volume 93, Issue 18

Thursday, September 29, 1999


I'll take bland for $200, Alex

Skepticism Inc. not questionable

An open letter to Lorne Michaels

Nails hit it right on the head

Cooper has whip-crackin' good time

Guitar Wolf luckily speak universal language of music

I'll take bland for $200, Alex

Photo by Rob McEwan
DAMMIT HONEY, IF IT'S FRESH SUSHI YOU WANT, IT'S FRESH SUSHI YOU'LL GET. Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd hunt for revenge in Double Jeopardy.

By Chad Finkelstein
Gazette Writer

Why does Hollywood always have to make everything so difficult?

Double Jeopardy, the new Ashley Judd quasi-suspense thriller, revolves around an ultra-glamorous housewife who wakes up one morning to find her loving husband missing and presumably dead. With blood on her hands and no other possible suspects, she's hauled off to the slammer to serve an undeserved six year sentence.

While incarcerated, Elizabeth (Judd) learns the staggering secret that, in fact, her husband has not been murdered at all. He has cowardly framed her, essentially abducted their son and moved into a new house with Elizabeth's supposed best friend. Thankfully, an ex-lawyer befriends our heroine in jail and reveals the legal obscurity which states an individual cannot be convicted of the same crime twice.

This leaves the door open for Elizabeth to bust out of prison and kill the betraying antagonist. On her soul-salvaging mission, she learns her husband, Nick, only set up the elaborate death so he could abuse his insurance and be rid of his financial troubles. Nobody should be surprised to know this excuse hardly serves as justification for Elizabeth.

Double Jeopardy is a harmless, entertaining movie. It offers nothing new to the worn out suspense genre, but does nothing to disrupt it either. As interesting as it is forgettable, it provides a simple escape for two hours and easily holds the audience's attention from standard start to predictable finish.

While the plot of the movie sounds intriguing enough it's difficult to stretch the notion into an entire full-length feature film. Upon passing an anti-climactic parole hearing, Elizabeth is freed from her unjust shackles. The movie then falls prey to convention and the damsel in distress, who can kick your ass if she needs to, wanders more than Odysseus around the country searching for her own version of the devil.

However, the movie remains enjoyable to endure all the way through, mainly on account of Judd's explosive performance. She has continuously proved her acting range to display a variety of emotions, but is still an under appreciated actress. Judd, who in every scene appears more physically flawless than the last, holds the movie together with her ball-busting screen persona of the hardened inmate with a heart of gold.

Her quest for revenge is made more intense by the constant interruption of her parole officer's incessant pursuit. Played by the extremely competent Tommy Lee Jones, these scenes dissappointingly result in the most stagnant segments of the film. Jones abandons the dry sarcasm which has gained him so much praise, his usual unapologetic delivery reduced to an unnecessarily passive portrayal of an active role.

Double Jeopardy relies almost entirely on Judd for the action from start to finish. Some irritating and stereotypical supporting characters are mixed in, especially in the prison scenes, to illustrate the director's apparent lack of creativity. However, the movie remains absorbing nonetheless. And when Elizabeth finally confronts her downright evil ex, a fulfilling sense of pride and justice is instilled into the audience's bleeding hearts, which makes sitting through the movie seem much more worthwhile.

Though it has nothing new or original to offer, Double Jeopardy is effective time spent for a satisfying cheap thrill. However, one question did persist through the entire movie which reflects back to the question at the start of this review – why couldn't Nick have just told his wife about their problems?

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Copyright The Gazette 1999