Getting knocked up might just be the best thing to ever happen to Jodie Foster's career. Without a pregnancy to get her off the hook, it would have been Foster running from rampant, rabid loopholes in the laughable, pathetic, incoherent thriller "Double Jeopardy."
Poor Ashley Judd got the call to replace Foster in this picture -- about the fantasy revenge of a woman whose shady businessman hubby fakes his own murder and frames her for it -- and the actress barely survives it with her dignity intact.
Built upon the wildly inaccurate legal postulate that if you're convicted of murder and the victim turns up alive, you can kill them for real and the law can't touch you, this movie couldn't be more riddled with holes if the script spent an afternoon at the business end of a artillery range.
For the record, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that a person cannot be tried for the same offense -- that is, the same singular act -- twice, and the law would not apply to a different murder in a different place and time. So Judd's husband turning up alive would not give her legal carte blanche to off him for real.
But even without that foundational fallacy, "Double Jeopardy" couldn't hold water.
As the movie opens we meet Judd and her husband (Bruce Greenwood) as they host a soiree at their swank Sound-side Washington state beach house. The joint is filled with expensive art and the alleged murder takes place on a yacht they're about to buy. Yet when he disappears overboard, leaving a trail of blood and a sharp knife in Judd's hand, her motive is supposed to he a measly $2 million life insurance policy -- as if two mill would last this girl more than a couple years.
Somehow convicted, even though, for instance, the gushing trail of blood couldn't have been his since he later turns up alive (hello? forensics?), Judd goes to jail and asks her best friend (ex-brat pack fringer Annabeth Gish) to adopt her son.
The courts ignore the husband's embezzlement (a motive for staging a disappearance) and the movie conveniently skips over the "where's daddy?" conversation, because it would cause a logistical problem in the script when the bad dad and Gish run off together with the boy and change their names.
Upon discovering this double-cross, Judd -- who apparently hasn't a single friend or relative who could investigate for her -- starts counting the six years to her parole hearing so she can get out and start seeking vengeance, having learned from a cellmate that in the Hollywood justice system you can whack your undead hubby and walk. Never mind that no court in the world would give this woman custody of her son after pumping his father full of lead, even if doing so was legal.
Upon her release, Judd is regulated to a half-way house run by a cantankerous, tormented parole officer played by Tommy Lee Jones, and she soon breaks parole to chase her ex hither and yon through picturesque locales (San Francisco, Rocky Mountain foothills, New Orleans) determined to get the kid back and settle a score. Jones, of course, takes up a hot pursuit. (By the way, why isn't this another "Fugitive" sequel?)
How any director could take this crap seriously is beyond me. But Bruce Beresford, who ducked through legal loopholes in Sharon Stone's dead-serious death row drama "Last Dance," seems to have little interest in integrity (his or the story's) and happily turns the other way while his movie gallops through a minefield or moronic mistakes.
When Judd entrusts Gish with her son, doesn't it occur to her to get relative's numbers for emergencies? And if she knows Gish that well, wouldn't she have at least an inkling how to find her folks or her other friends?
Even if the fictional double jeopardy laws in this film did apply, murder is charged at the state level. If Judd kills her hubby in California, Colorado or Louisiana, she wouldn't be exempt from anything. (The even say in the movie "the state considers him dead.")
When she finds Greenwood, why does Judd tip her hand by showing up at a black tie party he's hosting and saying hi?
In a movie that treats its audience with such intellectual disrespect, you can't help but fume about such things (I have a list of about 25 more issues stemming from this infectious idiocy). Honestly, "Double Jeopardy" is worse than any Lifetime channel victim empowerment movie and even sinks lower than a Sally Field someone-took-my-baby flick. It's about as bad as a movie with good actors can get.
Run time: 105 mins
In Theaters: Friday 24th September 1999
Box Office Worldwide: $177.8M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 0.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 63
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Bruce Beresford
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones as Travis Lehman, Ashley Judd as Elizabeth "Libby" Parsons, Bruce Greenwood as Nicholas "Nick" Parsons / Jonathan Devereaux, Annabeth Gish as Angela "Angie" Green, Benjamin Weir as Matty - Age 4, Jay Brazeau as Bobby, John Maclaren as Rudy