Review: Extra punishment merited for 'Double Jeopardy'
September 24, 1999
By Reviewer Paul Clinton
(CNN) -- The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that no one can be convicted twice for the same crime. It's called double jeopardy -- which is also the name of a new suspense thriller starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones. Obviously that amendment doesn't apply to actors: They keep assaulting us with the same roles, over and over again, and we keep convicting them.
We have a case in point in "Double Jeopardy," in which Jones mainly reprises his role from 1993's "The Fugitive" (not to mention its 1998 sequel, "U.S. Marshals"). In scene after scene he's chasing Judd -- a woman falsely convicted of a crime, gosh that sounds familiar -- through airports, through crowded streets, and yes, through the pouring rain. After a while, if you squint, really, really hard, Judd begins to look just a little bit like Harrison Ford -- only shorter.
Judd stars as Libby Parsons, wife and mother. She's enjoying an idyllic life with her son and her loving husband Nick, played by Bruce Greenwood. Then suddenly one night, during a romantic weekend at sea, her husband vanishes from their luxury sailboat. Libby is left, covered in blood, to explain his disappearance to the authorities.
Little goodwill earned
If you've seen the trailer for this made-for-TV movie, masquerading as a feature film, then you've seen it all. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Libby's husband has faked his own death and framed his wife.
Libby arranges for her best friend Angie, played by Annabeth Gish, to take care of her son, and off she goes to prison.
While in the big house, Libby is befriended by a tough dame named Margaret. Margaret, also in the slammer for killing her husband, just happens to be an attorney. How convenient! She passes on the little bit of information about the Fifth Amendment to Libby. Yep, when she gets out she can kill her hubby in the middle of Times Square if she wants to, and walk away -- she can't be convicted twice for the same crime.
Any goodwill you may have towards this story fades away when Libby goes into an embarrassing "Rocky" mode. After finding out her rotten hubby is still alive and breathing, she starts pumping iron in prison, with the appropriate musical accompaniment of course, signifying that she's gonna get him gosh darn it! Puh-leeze.
Thousands of pushups, and six years later, she's released on parole and sent to finish out her sentence at a halfway house run by burned-out parole officer Travis Lehman, played stoically by Jones.
Of course, hell hath no fury like a woman framed by her husband for his own death. Libby skips out of the halfway house, and proceeds to travel cross country in an effort to track the weasel down. In what looks like a reprise of his role in "The Fugitive" Jones spends the rest of the film panting behind her, hot on her heels, through thick and thin.
Given the strong female point of view in "Double Jeopardy," it would have made an adequate TV movie for a cable network like as Lifetime. You'll find yourself waiting for a word from your sponsor heralding the use of some new feminine hygiene product. Unfortunately, there are no breaks here, just unrelenting and predictable clichés piled one upon the other.
Judd is one heck of a trouper and she gives it her all, but only the Jones' smoldering presence gives this film any weight at all. And even he is only window dressing.
"Double Jeopardy" is rated R for nudity and violence. 106 minutes.
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