Double Jeopardy [1999]

Young Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd) is happy as a clam, and why not? She's got a loving, successful husband (Bruce Greenwood), an adorable son, and an island home to die for. One morning, after a romantic sailing expedition with her husband, Libby finds herself covered in blood. Her husband's missing, the boat resembles a murder scene, and there's a knife on the deck. One might stop right there and call for help; Libby, however, takes matters--or, more specifically, the knife--into her own hands, and the moment she does, there's the Coast Guard. Faster than you can say frame-up, Libby's been charged with murder and jailed, with her young son stripped from her custody. It's all cut-and-dried, except for one thing: Libby's husband isn't dead, and she's about to track him down. And thanks to the Fifth Amendment's double jeopardy rule, she can't be charged twice for his murder. Double Jeopardy has a singularly seductive revenge premise and, in Judd, one of the most seductive leading ladies to grace the silver screen in recent years. So then why does this thriller feel like it came from the bottom of the Lifetime television movie barrel? Instead of taking a gritty, hard-boiled approach, the film plays up all of Libby's mushy emotions--tellingly, the director here is Bruce Beresford, whose best film, Driving Miss Daisy, is as far from thriller territory as you can get. No matter how stoically or deviously Judd plays her, Libby comes across as a soccer mom with a slight taste for blood. Only in a few scenes, specifically when she tracks her wily husband to his new identity in New Orleans, does Judd get to strut her stuff, stealing an evening gown and crashing his charity auction. Most of the time, though, this thriller offers only a smattering of suspense. Well, at least like Libby, the filmmakers can't be condemned twice for the same crime. With Tommy Lee Jones duplicating his Fugitive role, as Libby's conscientious parole officer. --Mark Englehart

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