Double Jeopardy (1999)

Double Jeopardy (1999)
  • Time: 105 min
  • Genre: Crime | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Bruce Beresford
  • Cast: Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood


Libby Parsons awakens to find herself adrift at sea, with her husband missing and her hands covered with his blood. She’s arrested for murder and loses everything, including her son. But while in prison, Libby finds out she’s been framed. Now, the law of “double jeopardy” — and the desire to kill her “late” husband for good — is all Libby has left, even if it means outwitting her sympathetic parole officer.


  • I found “Double Jeopardy” to be a very good movie with both some intense action and emotional scenes. I thought the acting was good and the storyline was very interesting. I was thoroughly impressed with Ashley Judd’s performance. She is just now being discovered for her depth of talent. Tommy Lee Jones played yet another “state marshall”. He seems type cast for this role. The ending had enough twists to make the story interesting. This movie is full of suspense and drama that will keep the viewer on there toes attempting to imagine what will happen next. So I can say: this action thriller is worth seeing more than once.

  • A dramatic thriller that doesn’t quite thrill, Double Jeopardy spins its plot off the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: “No person (shall). . .be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb. . .” Notice those gaps between certain phrases? There are similar lapses throughout the film.

    Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd) is living the cliché – perfect husband (Bruce Greenwood), perfect son, perfect Seattle home. Her hubby Nick may be having some financial problems at work but his colleagues are doing most of his worrying. Nothing fazes this golden boy. As a romantic gesture, Nick takes Libby for a weekend of sailing. She’s especially touched as she knows how much he doesn’t enjoy it. But enjoy it they do – a day of sailing and a night of drink and passionate lovemaking.

    Then the nightmare – Libby awakes to find herself covered in blood and Nick nowhere to be found. All there is are bloody tracks and a bloody knife, which the Coast Guard sees her holding when they pick her up. In no time at all, she’s arrested and convicted for Nick’s murder. She’s sentenced and attempts to adjust to life without her beloved son, whom she’s left in the care of her friend Angie (Annabeth Gish).

    Though Angie brings Libby’s son to visit her, it’s just not the same for Libby who has to watch her son grow up from behind a glass window. Then Angie and her son disappear. When Libby tracks them down in San Francisco, she is shocked to hear her son greet his daddy. Yes, Nick is very much alive and guess what Libby can do? According to her prison mate Margaret (Roma Maffia), she can’t be convicted of killing Nick twice. So when she gets out, she should hunt him down and shoot him dead. When Libby is released on parole six years later, she proceeds to do exactly that. But she’s got her alcoholic parole officer Travis Lehman (Tommy Lee Jones) on her trail.

    Screenwriters David Weisberg and Douglas S. Cook bend the Fifth Amendment to suit their revenge fantasy. Do consider that lawyers in the film are either depicted as barely competent figures, jailed murderers (Margaret) or washed-up alcoholic parole officers (Travis). It’s all hogwash, which is unfortunate as the characters have much potential to be mined. Double Jeopardy is about second chances, an opportunity perhaps to right a wrong. Both Libby and Travis have a wrong to right. Her vengeance is fueled by her love for her son. Travis hasn’t seen his wife and daughter since his drinking caused an accident that nearly took all their lives. What a paradox that he oversees a facility for people with second chances, not that he allows them any leeway. Unfortunately, these are granted an all-too-brief focus.

    The actors do their best to fill in the blanks. Greenwood, an Atom Egoyan veteran, is suitably suavely smarmy as Nick though he comes off as lightweight to merit such a supporting showcase. Jones turns in a less intense version of his performance from The Fugitive. His prickly persona entertains but he’s not challenged and it shows. Besides, it’s a glorified supporting role; this is Judd’s vehicle all the way.

    I’ve enjoyed all of Judd’s performances so far. Her presence in the otherwise treacly Simon Birch nearly redeemed the film. She holds up her end of the bargain here – she convincingly exudes wifely devotion, motherly love, gritty determination and meets Jones eye to eye. And she looks fetching in both Armani and prison blues.

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