_Double_Jeopardy_ boasts a hook that is killer--literally. A woman is
framed her husband's murder and is accordingly sentenced to prison.
While in the pen, she discovers that her husband is, in fact, alive and
kicking. Informed of the "double jeopardy" law--that is, that no person
can be tried for the exact same crime twice--she decides to serve her
time and, once she's released, _really_ off her not-so-dear hubby.
After all, no officer of the law can touch her for committing a crime she
has already "committed," no?
The few times I saw the trailer for _Double_Jeopardy_, the clip where
the woman in question, Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd), is told about double
jeopardy by a fellow inmate (Roma Maffia), was greeted with hearty
applause. And during my screening of the film, that same scene, in its
complete form, was met with the same approval. But that's just five
minutes in a film that lasts at least 100, and in time it becomes clear
that the hook is all there is to _Double_Jeopardy_, with nothing equally
as interesting or surprising left to fill in the blanks.
The presence of Judd in the lead does go a long way in keeping the film
watchable. Libby breaks her parole in Washington state and tracks down
her deceitful husband Nick (Bruce Greenwood) all the way down to New
Orleans, Judd is never less than believable, and as such there is little
difficulty buying into the often-preposterous proceedings. Also
contributing to the urgency is Tommy Lee Jones, whose strongly
_Fugitive_-esque role as parole officer Travis Lehman is indeed one he
can play in his sleep, but that doesn't mean that he's any less
With the actors doing the best they can, the blame for this
less-than-thrilling thriller falls on director Bruce Beresford and
writers David Weisberg and Douglas S. Cook. From the premise, it's quite
obvious how the film's going to end. After all, can you imagine just how
let down the audience would feel if she _doesn't_ commit the dirty deed?
(And if the film didn't end that way, a test screening would have surely
changed that.) So it's up to the filmmakers to flesh out the whole, and
all they come up with is the idea of lost children. In an obvious effort
to keep Libby from being too coldblooded, her main motive to find her
husband is not to even the score, but to see her son again; to add some
sort of bonding point between her and Lehman, he's saddled with an
arbitrary back story where his own daughter was taken away from him after
a DUI infraction. The more action-oriented "suspense" points that come
along the way aren't much more effective. One too many scenes has Libby
smash up a car, and one critical scene down the stretch has the villain
committing the mistake made by _Austin_Powers_' Dr. Evil--that is,
assuming the heroine is left for dead when it would be much easier to
make quick work of her.
But most people won't think of these things while watching
_Double_Jeopardy_, and the film may end up sufficiently entertaining
audiences. However, it must be said that while there was some clapping
at the end of the film, the applause was nothing compared to that which
greeted the "double jeopardy" scene. It just goes to show that while a
great hook does count for something, it takes a lot more to reel an