[box cover]

Double Jeopardy

All-American mom and wife Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd) enjoys an affluent life in Washington State, until a sailing expedition with her husband Nick (Bruce Greenwood) turns into a capital case, with a blood-splattered boat, a knife, and a distress call from her assumed-dead companion. Tossed into the joint and away from her young son, she soon learns that the devious Nick faked his death. She also discovers that, under the double-jeopardy provisions of the Fifth Amendment, after she serves her time she can kill the erstwhile Mr. Parsons in broad daylight, since nobody can be prosecuted for the same crime twice — which is exactly what she sets out to do after her parole. A surprise 1999 box-office hit despite mixed critical reviews, Double Jeopardy won over many (presumably female) viewers with its delectably dissolute premise — how satisfying would it be to scotch your hypocrite hubby without concern for the consequences? However, Double Jeopardy misses the mark with its tepid approach to its subject matter. Rather than allowing Libby to be a determined anti-heroine willing to go to any lengths to extract her pound of flesh, we instead are force-fed morally reassuring motivations — her motherly concern for her child. The young 'un, in the custody of dear old dad, becomes the focus of the story (especially in the latter half), which ultimately cheats viewers out of the film's initial promise. Judd performs capably in her role as Libby, which requires many small, vulnerable moments, and it should be noted that Greenwood is a magnificent, charming asshole — but had director Bruce Beresford and writers David Weisberg and Douglas Cook been willing to omit the kid altogether and get a knife-wielding Glenn Close in the starring role, they might have crafted a superb neo-noir. Double Jeopardy also works triple-time for Tommy Lee Jones, playing Libby's hard-assed, no-nonsense parole officer who soon believes in her innocence. Despite the fact that he has no badge, the performance (and plot) is virtually identical to his Dep. U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard in The Fugitive and U.S. Marshals — another safe bet in a film afraid to take risks. Good transfer, DD 5.1, featurette, trailer.
—JJB



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