Double Jeopardy Movie Review

Double Jeopardy does not take place during the latter half of a game show. However, it has a similar amount of credibility.

There's an old adage in screenwriting: You can make something up, and it doesn't have to be real. It just has to be believable. In other words, you can make up the lines for a priest to read at a wedding, as long as they sound plausible. No one's going to know if you miss a few "Amens." However, this liberty does not extend to making up laws on which to base the premise of your film.

Double Jeopardy has the bizarre distinction of probably being the first movie to completely rest its fortunes on the fact that you'll buy make-believe legislation. And if you believe the filmmakers, you simply can't be tried for the same crime twice. So if your husband (Greenwood) fakes his death and frames you (Judd) for it, and then you get convicted, and then six years later you stalk him down to kill him, then you can't be found guilty of murder, because you were already tried (and convicted) for that.

Right? Wrong. Very wrong. Wrong to the point that it's scary to think that maybe the filmmakers maybe didn't realize it at any point during the production.

The plot of Double Jeopardy is very plain and obvious (Tommy Lee Jones chases vengeance-obsessed Judd for an hour while she tracks down hubby, just like in The Fugitive). And while the thriller is pedestrian and straightforward and otherwise dull, the theater erupts in laughter every time that "double jeopardy" clause is trotted out. You keep expecting for someone on screen to explain to Judd how the law works, but they never do, and Jones's character is an ex-law professor!

Not that I should feel surprised. Bruce Beresford hasn't made a good movie since 1989 (Driving Miss Daisy). While Jones is campy and fun to watch, and I could be entertained watching Ashley Judd make toast for two hours, the film does not redeem itself with these minimal, guilty pleasures (see also: Entrapment). This isn't Double Jeopardy. It's a $100 warm-up question.

Question: What film are you going to look back at with remorse, Ashley (you know, besides Kuffs)?


Mon's picture


Your comments are outrageous!! This is my favourite film, and I'm a lawyer who has no problem with some of the technicalities the film directors may have glossed over."The state considers him dead" : he has been declared dead, therefore she could not be convicted of this again as his death would register across the US. Not just in the state of California.I can't believe you hold this film in such low regard, I have seen it upwards of 10 times and still can't get enough. Sure, some of it may be a little unfeasible, but isn't that the beauty of filmography? If you picked at the loopholes in every film, it would be hard to enjoy any at all.

4 years 7 months ago
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Yinzer's picture


Flipping channels out of boredom with so many channels and so many ridiculous reality shows, I happened once again to catch this movie. If I were looking for truth in filmmaking I'd catch a documentary ... oh wait, even those have a slant. I suppose this movie can be classified a "thriller." Unlike the reviewer, I must have missed the disclaimer in the beginning that it is reality-based. It was fun to get lost in, and I was happy to find it again. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia too, but I doubt if I step into my closet I'll end up in another world. For me films and some television are meant as an escape from reality, not as a tool of condemnation for me for anything that doesn't meet actual life criteria.

4 years 6 months ago
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Double Jeopardy Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 1999


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