DOUBLE JEOPARDY

Starring: Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Annabeth Gish, Bruce Greenwood, Roma Maffia, and Davenia McFadden.

Director: Bruce Beresford

Screenplay by: David Weisberg & Douglas Cook

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

We are supposed to believe, as the movie opens, that Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd) has the perfect life -- a gorgeous house overlooking the Puget Sound in the state of Washington, an adoring husband, a well-behaved young son, and a charming, beautiful best friend.

As you probably know, if you've seen any of the TV promos for this movie, her perfect life is shattered by a husband who seems to have met with an accident -- or murder as the State of Washington legal system sees it. She ends up in prison for a crime she didn't commit, loses track of her son, and begins to suspect that her perfect life wasn't so perfect after all.

In prison she learns that since the State already believes her husband to be dead, and she is paying the price for that crime, when she is released, she can essentially, hunt him down and kill him in plain sight of witnesses, and can't legally be convicted of the crime a second time.

Why this movie is so popular is beyond me. I have a couple of theories. My first theory is that the idea of double jeopardy, as it applies in this case, is an interesting concept. The promos for the film make it sound like it will be a satisfying trip, on the road to justice. For me, it was not.

My second theory is that having seen the promos on TV and there being nothing else worth going to the movies for, people are going just out of boredom.

Either way, I suspect many viewers who willing paid their money for the tickets are now wishing they had waited until the movie came on broadcast TV. I know I do, and I only paid a matinee price.

My first problem is with the chemistry or lack of chemistry between Judd and Bruece Greenwood, her husband. I can't say if it is because I have seen this actor in sleazy roles before, or not. In this case, however, he came across (to me) as far too sleazy to be believable as an adoring husband. Psychotic husband, yes...but never adoring.

Even with the husband and wife pairing not working for me, I was still hoping for Tommy Lee Jones to put in a U.S. Marshall's type performance. Again, I was disappointed. The character portrayed by Jones had a few clever moments but in general, was underdeveloped and under used, in my opinion.

The premise of the story was intriguing but bogged down in so many places I felt like shouting at the screen, "just kill him and be done with it, already!"

At times the movie is very derivative. The innocent in prison must bulk up to meet the next challenge in life...revenge. Shades of Linda Hamilton in "Terminator," Demi Moore in "G.I. Jane" (okay, it's the army not prison...), and Nicholas Cage in "Con Air," to name a few. But then, what else is there to do in prison besides bulk up or become a lawyer?

Once the chase is on, Judd plays it fairly well until she actually catches up to that no-good husband of hers. The ensuing cat-and-mouse chase quickly becomes boring. At times, Judd's character acts rather stupidly for someone who is supposed to have been intelligent in the first place, and recently re-educated by her prison mates.

And speaking of prison mates, the movie would have been a whole lot better if fellow prisoners Magaret Skolowski (Roma Maffia) and Evelyn Lake (Davenia McFadden) had had more air time. In fact, the movie would have been better as a "buddy" flick, featuring Judd, Maffia, and McFadden.

The movie had potential, I'll admit that. It just didn't deliver for me. Too bad. I wanted to like the movie. I loved the gorgeous Puget Sound scenery. I expected more. I wanted more.

I don't recommend "Double Jeopardy." The movie was okay, at best. Not good or great. It felt more like made-for-TV movie-of-the-week fare.


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