Keep in mind that this review pertains to the edited TV 14 version of this film. All thoughts written below should be treated as such as a review of the unedited version would be significantly harsher.
Let’s look at a retro film from about 10 years ago. The two main actors are fairly popular in the form of Ben Affleck (Maybe not popular, but at least well known) and Samuel L. Jackson. Despite this, I definitely can’t say that I had heard of this film before. It’s a pretty good adventure and it’s certainly a lot more fun than I had anticipated. (Although, I did find the premise to have potential right from the start) It’s basically the light hearted version of the cop film that I saw a while back where Samuel L. Jackson was also a main character. The main difference is that this film is just better in every single way.
The film starts off with two main characters. One of them is Doyle who is preparing to buy a house. He must head over to the court house after that to try and convince his wife to keep the house and then hopefully they can get back on friendly terms. He has managed to quit drinking and things are looking up for Doyle. Meanwhile, we have a bright and upcoming lawyer in Gavin. Gavin is about to bring some critical evidence to his case and victory is just about assured. His firm will win 3 million dollars and he’ll probably get a raise or a promotion. Both main characters must alter their plans when they crash on the highway. Doyle is unable to make it to the courthouse in time and Gavin left his evidence with Doyle by mistake. Doyle is furious with Gavin while Gavin is panicking with this new development. So starts the battle between these two men as they take turns making each other’s life miserable. Who will win…or is it a matter of “Will anyone win?”
If you’ve been following this site for a few years then you may know that I love it when films add that court plot to the mix. I love a good trial and both plots revolve around the court house, which was pretty cool. Things definitely don’t go Gavin’s way in the trial and it’s cool to see how quickly the tides can turn. Even without the court scenes, the film is a lot of fun and that’s the main reason as to why it succeeds. It’s not without its weaknesses of course, but the positives in Changing Lanes far outweigh the negatives.
There aren’t many negatives here at all so I’m going to quickly get them over with right here. One plot that I could definitely have done without is the one where we find out that Gavin is cheating on his wife. She knows it and tolerates the act, but I would have preferred her to have just split up with him. Gavin also shouldn’t be messing around like that as it takes away any chance that he had of being a likable character. That being said, the film makes sure to show that the wife is pretty corrupt while the secretary seemed to care a little more about the injured party. By engaging in the act with Gavin, she’s still not a moral individual, but the film makes sure that both choices are unlikable.
And….that’s it. That’s basically the only thing that I could find wrong with this film as it’s basically up hill from there. There’s no animal violence here, no scenes to cringe at, etc. The film expertly maneuvered around the usual obstacles that a film faces while holding true to its positives. The writing is consistently good throughout the film as well. There’s no real soundtrack, but I’ll let it slide this time.
As we’ve already seen, Gavin is not a very likable main character. If not for his little affair, he would be a lot more sympathetic. That being said, he is a little unreasonable at the beginning of the film and he should have definitely given Doyle a lift. As it happened, they were both going to the same place anyway. If only he had known right? Still, Gavin makes a lot of good decisions by the end of the film and I like to think that he will manage to get his life back on track soon. I just wish that could have happened on screen instead of me just having to take a guess at that.
Doyle is definitely better than Gavin although he is also the first guy to escalate the tensions between the two main characters. His circumstances are more sympathetic than Gavin’s and he was really trying to do the right thing as the film began. Unfortunately, missing the court date was pretty major and he couldn’t get back from that very easily. He gets to have some nice closure as the film ends so he managed to stay on the side of the heroes.
Changing Lanes can get annoying as one character tries to do the right thing when something happens, which causes him to rethink that. This happens to both of the leads several times so that their battle can continue. One of them even brings in a hacker who is able to manipulate bank statements. That being said, the film manages to keep things light without ever getting too dreary and dramatic. The premise is one that can easily get silly if handled poorly, but the film does a good job of still keeping it fairly realistic as this happens.
One area that could have been tricky for the film was the ending, but it’s handled really well. I would have felt bad for the old man’s heir otherwise as the main character’s firm nearly got away with stealing 3 million dollars. Doyle’s plot also had the potential to have a pretty sad ending, but it’s wrapped up nicely by the end. It’s the kind of film that could get a sequel someday, but there really wouldn’t be a point. The two heroes were able to set aside their differences and Gavin will strive to be a better person in the future. I would be open to a sequel where the hacker decides to blackmail Gavin so the hero has to team up with Doyle. That could definitely be intriguing.
Overall, Changing Lanes is a fun film. The movie never gets too out there with the steps that the main characters take to defeat each other so it’s still pretty realistic by the end. It manages to have a happy ending that feels satisfying without being too perfect and the two main characters made the right calls by the end. It’s simply a complete film and it’s one where you will walk away feeling good about the time that you just invested in this film. This is also good news for Batman V(s) Superman since I have now seen an Affleck film where he looks pretty good. Perhaps a little different than I remembered him from Daredevil, but it was a solid performance. I definitely recommend this film if you want to see two grown ups go at it with all that they’ve got!