Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day One Hundred and Thirteen - Double Jeopardy, "Wow... I didn't believe this movie one bit."

The late 90's and early 2000's were a boom time for crime thrillers. For a while there, you couldn't swing a cat without hitting an Alex Cross or Ashley Judd movie (sometimes both, when you think of Kiss the Girls) and that trend has sort of died out lately. So much so, that I'm actually afraid that Fincher's take on the Millennium Trilogy will be stuck at one (granted, it was a tremendous 'one,' but still).

How... how did I get in this picture, again?
Back to the matter at hand, in 1999 Ashley and Tommy Lee Jones costarred in a silly thriller about a loving wife who is framed for murder by her husband and the best friend he was sleeping with. In the opening act of the film, there's really no clue as to what the film is about. Everything is lovey dovey and there's absolutely no tension save that the husband, Nick (Bruce Greenwood), is a bit of a dick when it comes to his art collection and there might be financial problems a'brewing.

Granted, you know what the premise of the film is going into it, but it just seems to come out of nowhere... and I suppose that's the idea as Judd's Elizabeth is blindsided by both her husband's supposed death and the litany of evidence against her. Still, it feels a little stupid that there was no real tension to build upon. No suspicions of an affair, no meaningful glances... just a single line that would be better for another situation, "better you hear it from us," used for something completely innocuous.

Then there's the prison sequence.

So close to a giant lesbian meth orgy!
Elizabeth spends six years in prison before she is paroled in the second act... and despite the emotional strain she is under, the big house seems like a rather reserved and sustainable existence. Now, maybe the writer skipped on the stereotypical prison drama to keep the focus on Elizabeth's mortification at having her child stripped away from her, but even uplifting prison films like Shawshank (admittedly, a much better film) had the Sisters and quite a bit of physical abuse. I really thought they were setting something like that up when the Margaret and Evelyn characters are introduced. There needed to be a least a pecking order beatdown before they became bosom buddies, but all it took was a few stolen smokes. Blech.

Honey! Ixnay on the aked-fey eath-day!
Once our righteously pissed heroine gets her parole and we're finally introduced to Tommy Lee Jones' parole officer, what should be a great game of cat and mouse is just a simple half hour of connect the dots that wastes a perfect opportunity for Judd to out Greenwood at a black tie gala and sends the audience sightseeing tourista N'awlins... from the French Quarter to NO's famous above ground cemeteries (where a prime chance to kill her is wasted) and back again.

I think my main problem with the film is that there's just no smarts involved. It's a paint by numbers movie that has no real tense moments or true emotion. Even when Elizabeth is supposed to be breaking down in tears or full of righteous anger, Judd plays her so false and wooden. I'll tell you true, I wouldn't have believed her crocodile tears on the witness stand and her denouement hug of her long lost child felt like a camp counselor giving an awkward going away embrace to her favorite camper whilst simultaneously avoiding his first boner.

This wasn't a great outing for Jones, either. His motivation is tacked on and the stories need to always have him following footsteps instead of really asserting himself means that when he actually tries something during the climax, it feels out of left field and is just as false as Judd and her antics. I mean, at least in The Fugitive he felt menacing in his dogged pursuit... like a noose was actually tightening. Here it was just "Oh hai, Ashley!"

Thank the Maker he made No Country For Old Men with the Coens or I'd have no more respect for him.

I feel a bit bad for Bruce Greenwood. He's redeemed himself for this terrible showing in recent years thanks to his work with J.J.Abrams, but I can't help but laugh every time he's on screen in this picture.

At best, I think Double Jeopardy is a date night movie that you can throw on for something in the background while you're spending most of your attentions snogging your partner. It's definitely the kind of film you can slide in an out of without missing anything.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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