Double Jeopardy (1999) / Thriller-Mystery

MPAA Rated: R for language, a scene of sexuality and some violence
Running Time: 105 min.

Cast: Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish
Director: Bruce Beresford
Screenplay: David Weisberg, Douglas Cook

Review published March 24, 2000

Libby Parsons (Judd, Kiss the Girls) is convicted for the murder of her husband, Nick (Greenwood, The Sweet Hereafter), while on a boating trip. She lets her best friend (Gish, Steel) adopt her young son while she goes to prison, but when her friend promptly vanishes, Libby gets suspicious. She is able to trace her whereabouts and discovers her husband still alive under assumed identity. Libby, already serving for the murder of her husband, is informed that she can now kill him with no punitive results since the "double jeopardy" rule states that you can't be tried for the same crime twice. While on parole, she escapes and goes in search of her husband and son.

Good acting and competent directing can't raise this far-fetched B-movie to the level of credibility it needs to be a great thriller. While offering an interesting premise, there's really little else to keep the action afloat other than a series of unlikely and frustratingly poorly conceived events that raise the B.S. factor to the point of laughability. Tommy Lee Jones, who seems to now be typecast after The Fugitive and U.S. Marshals as the guy to hire to track down criminals, ir sorely wasted in a supporting role as the down-and-out parole officer.

What's wrong with Double Jeopardy can be pinned to the shoddy screenwriting by David Weisberg and Douglas Cook, who were responsible for the equally boneheaded but successful actioner, The Rock. Making almost little sense, the viewer can't truly get into the film due to too many inconcistencies and asking too much suspension of disbelief. For instance, why would a man who faked his own death and allowed his wife to take the rap live a series of fairly high-profile lifestyles? Why is it that when a convicted murderer breaks out of her parole camp and is on the loose and armed that there is only one person looking for her with any effort? How does Tommy Lee always seem to find out Ashley's whereabouts with little or no evidence to go on?

As the film builds itself out of implausibilities beginning from its very foundation, none of the events that happen ring true until ultimately what we're left with is an implausibility pill that's too large to swallow.

Qwipster's rating:

2000 Vince Leo