"Double Jeopardy"

Ashley Judd plays a revenge machine in a size 2 dress -- what's not to love?

By Charles Taylor

Published June 16, 2000 7:00PM (EDT)

"Double Jeopardy"
Directed by Bruce Beresfor
Starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones
Paramount; widescreen
Extras:Theatrical trailer, making-of documentary, scene selection

In "Double Jeopardy," as a woman framed for the murder of a husband she later learns is not dead, Ashley Judd suffers so much she practically qualifies for sainthood. In just under two hours, Judd gets to run through nearly every existing archetype of female melodrama -- loving wife and mother, grieving widow, spurned woman, avenging angel -- facing, as Thelma Ritter said in "All About Eve," "everything but the hound dogs yappin' at her rear end."

Judd goes at the role with gusto. It's a thoroughly unsubtle star turn. Tommy Lee Jones, as the parole officer who has to track Judd down when she escapes his clutches to exact revenge, gets top billing. But he doesn't enter the movie for the first 30 minutes and then wisely stays out of Judd's way. It's her show. And there's something ludicrously satisfying about a revenge machine who's a size 2.

You couldn't confuse "Double Jeopardy" with a good movie, but it's easy to see why it was a hit. Slickly directed by Bruce Beresford, "Double Jeopardy" is a women's melodrama in the guise of a thriller. For women, it's a fantasy of sticking it to every SOB who ever made their life hell. That doesn't mean men can't have fun watching it. The movie is utterly shameless, lively entertainment. The extras here are standard: a promotional making-of short and the original theatrical trailer. The clarity of Peter James' handsome widescreen photography is the real reason to see it on DVD. And Judd is the reason to see it, period. She's the Little Engine That Could -- out for blood.

Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor is a columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger.

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