- Ashley Judd as Libby Parsons
- Tommy Lee Jones as Travis Lehman
- Bruce Greenwood as Nick Parsons/Jonathan Devereaux
- Annabeth Gish as Angie Green
If there was ever a film that was by the numbers and completely preposterous in the thriller genre, Double Jeopardy would probably take the title hands down. Filled with plot holes and too much time having to suspend belief, the only real saving grace of the film is Ashley Judd’s excellent performance that elevates it to at least being watchable.
Libby Parsons and her husband Nick are rich residents of Whidbey Island, Washington with their young son Matty. One weekend, Nick takes Libby sailing on a yacht he is borrowing from a friend. All seems tranquil until Libby wakes up covered in blood and with no sign of her husband. Once she gets to land, she is accused of murdering her husband and subsequently tried for this crime that she didn’t commit. Libby asks her best friend Angie to adopt her young son as she knows she will be imprisoned for a long time. At first out-of-place within the prison setting, the devastated Libby soon learns to survive. It is then that she inquires about her son having had no contact with him for weeks. Just as the last minutes of her call run out, she hears her son exclaim “Daddy”. Reeling from this, she realises that her husband is very much alive and faked his death, thereby putting her in the frame for his ‘murder’. Filled with rage, she begins to toughen up some more whilst in prison. She is given a valuable piece of information by a fellow inmate, according to a constitution in law known as Double Jeopardy, Libby can’t be tried for the same crime twice. Which means if she were to track Nick down and kill them, there is nothing the law could do about it. Libby is then released on parole after six years in prison . Until the constraints of gruff Parole Officer Travis Lehman, Libby searches for the whereabouts of her traitorous husband. Tracking him to Colorado, she skips town and goes after him with revenge in mind. Sure enough, Lehman is on her tail as her search leads her to New Orleans. Nothing else in the world matters in the world to Libby except getting her son back and exacting revenge on her slimy spouse for the pain he has put her through.
Now I must say that Bruce Beresford is a very talented director and he does manage to capture some thrilling sequences here, but not even this can bring clarity or memorability to this jumbled mess of a movie. Most of the problem with Double Jeopardy lies with the questionable script and pacing. The script throws in moments that are just to ludicrous to accept, such as Libby committing crimes once out of prison and leaving a trail of evidence in her wake for Lehman to follow her, rather than nimbly keeping a low profile in her search for her husband. The pace is almost non-existent with scenes just bleeding into the next with no passage of time or structure to back them up. Some of the legalities of the film are hard to understand and while some are addressed, they seem to be discarded with no explanation whatsoever. The music score to be fair to it adds at least a layer of mystery and suspense despite being somewhat clichéd.
What can’t be faulted in Double Jeopardy is the performance of Ashley Judd as the wronged Libby. She radiates rage and tough determination after learning of betrayal at the hands of her husband. Some of the actions her character takes are questionable, but Judd rises above these flaws to make Libby a character to sympathize with. Judd is clearly the most interesting thing on display within Double Jeopardy and certainly one of the few things to keep to it being watchable. Tommy Lee Jones, though overshadowed by Ashley Judd and underwritten, at least gives his part a little depth behind the angry exterior. For the brief time that he is on the screen, Bruce Greenwood gives us oily and sleazy charm as the traitorous Nick. I just felt that he could have featured more in the story and that way his character could have been memorable. The same goes for Annabeth Gish as Libby duplicitous friend, her character could have been interesting if the movie had taken the time to expand on the depth of her deception towards Libby.
Save for an impressive performance from Ashley Judd, Double Jeopardy is a muddled and forgettable thriller that had potential that wasn’t expanded upon.