Double Jeopardy Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

It’s time to look at a murder thriller from a little while back. The concept of Double Jeopardy is definitely an interesting one. I get the feeling that there is a little more to it than what the film would have you believe, but it certainly works for the premise. Of course, that’s part of the problem. The film keeps building up to this but we ultimately don’t really get to see it in action. I was expecting the heroine to use it to her advantage but in the end it feels like more of a red herring/missed opportunity.

The film starts with Libby and her husband Nick finally getting ready to take the voyage they had been planning for a while. Unfortunately after Libby goes to bed she wakes up to find that he is seemingly dead. (No body tho) The cops arrest her and blame her for the murder. There’s way too much evidence for this to be an accident and that’s when Libby finds out that Nick faked his death so he could go live with her best friend. Libby’s kid is also with them naturally so she swears revenge against him. Another inmate lets her know that because of double jeopardy she can go destroy Nick now since she already did so once and can’t be tried again. After 6 years Libby is out of prison and ready to begin the hunt. Unfortunately, officer Travis is on her tail so Libby’s really gonna need to hurry here.

Naturally it’s tough to track someone down when you haven’t seen them in years and there’s no handy Google to check things out. Fortunately Libby is pretty good at social engineering and quickly begins to break the human element that always fails the various computer systems and works her way to Nick. She’s definitely very determined in that goal and makes for a fun lead. Libby’s tough and to the point, definitely well ahead of her time as far as protagonists go. She does get a bit iffy towards the end though which is where the writing drops the ball. So at one point she finally finds Nick. At this point there is no reason why Libby shouldn’t just shoot him. Keep in mind that she’s not a super hero or anything like that. Libby’s here for her kid and could care less about the rest. The justice system failed her so she wants to make things right. By that logic shooting Nick is the quickest way to end things. She can easily prove that he was her old husband after that through photos and then she would get her kid.

I suspect that her kid is the only excuse as to why she wouldn’t do that, but logically it would all work out. Just take Nick down and you’re good. Instead she falls for one of the most obvious tricks in cinema and then gets tricked a second time in the climax. It was hard to watch this because she had been looking so good for quite a while to slip up like that. It’s a shame, but I guess the character couldn’t be perfect. She’s far and away the best character in the film despite this though as you can only be so hard on her for making these mistakes.

Then you have Travis who certainly isn’t having a fun time. He gets beat up by his own captive and then is playing catch up for the rest of the film. He’s a bit slow on the uptake but ultimately does try to look into the situation so I’ll give him some credit there. He is a fun character and while the characters give him a hard time for not giving someone a second chance, he made it crystal clear from the start that they were already on their last shot. Miss the curfew and it’s back to prison for you. He’s also pretty sloppy towards the end of the film though. I guess maybe the lighting messed with them all or he popped off too soon thinking the case was over.

Finally you’ve got the main villain Nick. He’s pretty much your average rich villain. The guy switched identities twice which is impressive enough and goes farther than you’d expect. Still, nothing much to like about his character. He just wanted to escape the taxes and all of his excuses are pretty fake. I do also have to wonder how he was able to escape so smoothly in both cases. I get that everything was more lax back in the day, but in all 3 identities he kept the same exact job and status. Didn’t anyone in those fancy art circles recognize him? You’d think that they would.

Before Nick’s death the film tries to sell you on what a good guy he is, but you’d likely know the premise of the film so it doesn’t work. Even if you don’t, the film lays the seeds of doubt early on as he jokes with the friend that Libby won’t like the truth when she finds out. There’s a lot of dialogue between the words hinting at his cheating the whole time. As such, we could have cut down on the romance scenes early on as they don’t add to anything. If the film was determined to try and show us that Nick was a good guy for a while, maybe show scenes with people in the neighborhood saying what a great guy he was. Otherwise he just seems like a corrupt rich guy from the start.

Overall, Double Jeopardy is a pretty decent thriller, but really missed the whole point of its title by not actually utilizing Double Jeopardy intentionally by the main heroine. She should have shot him in the middle of the big parade to prove the point or something like that. Instead the law never really gets taken into effect as the ending can still be considered self defense. Still, that aside it’s solid. The opening is a bit slow but things pick up once she’s on the hunt. The story of the lone vigilante is always an enticing one and this film handles it well. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I recommend checking it out once it’s on TV again. Once she’s in jail the film really starts.

Overall 7/10

U.S. Marshals Review

A while back, I saw the Fugitive. It was a pretty good film, but I unfortunately forgot most of it. A few scenes here and there to be sure, but my memory isn’t as clear as it once was. At least, that likely won’t happen much in the future thanks to these reviews! U.S. Marshals is a pretty good film and while it may have dragged on just a bit, it was a fun watch.

The plot involves a guy by the name of Mark Roberts who is injured during a car crash. He is then arrested and accused of murdering two American agents. Naturally, they take him into custody, but a plane crash caused by a would be assassin ends up giving Mark his chance to escape. He must now find out who set him up and clear his name. Meanwhile, U.S. Marshal, Samuel Gerard, has to find Mark before he destroys more people. He has no reason to believe that Roberts is being framed after all so he has to mobilize his troops. Tagging along by request order of the government is a new agent by the name of John. (The Government actually went with John as the name….don’t they remember their lessons on how to be subtle?) Can the heroes trust him and is Mark Roberts actually guilty or has he been framed? It’s time to find out!

One character who is really hard to forget is the U.S. Marshall. Samuel Gerard makes for a very interesting lead since he’s very experienced and he doesn’t really make mistakes. By “mistakes” I mean both in duty and in character development. Samuel is just a tough customer through and through as he resists all distractions and stiff arms the government. If Sam had just let the government walk all over him, he definitely would not have been quite as cool as he was. He can also fight when the need arises as he holds his own against Mark Roberts. (Supposedly the latter is an exceptional fighter so that is major props for Gerard) Gerard’s teammates are not quite as useful or likable. I don’t think I liked any of them to be honest. I didn’t really dislike them either, but they didn’t really have a purpose in the story. You could easily cut them out and there wouldn’t be many changes. It would get rid of a certain rage moment, but that could have happened through other scenarios. In a sense, I’d say that I’ve been lucky with protagonists lately. It’s rare to find someone as good as the U.S. Marshall and I just finished watching a film where the President was pretty great as well. I’ve gotta admit that the 90’s knew how to make solid main characters. Nowadays, it’s really just a free for all!

Mark Roberts is one of the main characters as well since he’s the one being chased the whole time. He’s a decently good character, but he’s definitely not as charismatic as Samuel. I don’t think he would have been able to hold his own film, but his scenes were pretty good. He’s definitely proficient in combat and he quickly adapts to the situation. It’s a good thing that he has some contacts because I don’t think he would really have a chance otherwise. It’s just him against the whole group after all. He does have one ally who helps him throughout the film. This is Marie and she ends up helping him out at critical points during the chase. Her role isn’t very large and she only makes a few appearances here and there, but at least she decides to trust him without calling the cops as you would expect from many other films. She never betrayed him and that’s always a good thing.

John Royce is played by Robert Downey Jr, which was pretty interesting. If not for the voice, I likely would not recognize him so he’s definitely changed over the years. As for the character, I’m sure that you’ve seen his type before. He’s the experienced professional that the government has added onto the squad so everyone resents his presence and he goes on to show them up….is what usually happens. The teammates don’t really mind him and while he is a professional, they show that he’s not quite as tough as the U.S. Marshal. He doesn’t play well with others and he always disobeys orders when he feels like it. He’s definitely not someone that you can count on. For a while there, he was actually a pretty likable character. By the end, he’s an intriguing one, but I’m not sure I care for how his character arc ended. It’s not really his decision that hurt his character, but the long theatrical way that he goes about making it. Just get over it and head to the next objective! He would have definitely been more impressive that way.

One thing you may have to question is the overall strategy of the U.S. Marshal. On paper it is a very sound strategy as they cover all of the bases and leave no stone unturned. The problem is the fact that he never seems to know what he’s going to do next. After following the suspects, they continue to follow them for as long as it takes. After a while, you just need to make a move and arrest somebody. By the time the heroes go to take out the villains, it’s typically too late. An example of this is when someone goes into a church with a suitcase…followed by another guy going in. The main characters just watch in horror for a while until they run in and the villains take the time to escape. Had the heroes charged through the door right away…they may have succeeded.

Another time where things got dicey was when the main character pretended to go for some coffee. I understand the plan and it’s a good one, but he took so long. If not for the villain stopping to boast about his master’s master plan and many other things, the U.S. Marshal would have definitely been too late to have done any good. It would have been Game Over at that point.

The film lacked closure in at least one way for me. I may have missed something, but it seems like one of the main villains actually manages to get away scot free. You’ll know who I’m referring to by the end, but he had a gun and he shot at the heroes for a while from the roof. He gets arrested, but the heroes admit that they’re toast thanks to politics. Diplomatic immunity is very real, but I’m sure that the heroes could do something. Show the proof and go through the military channels. Even if the government is shady, the information would have been made public.

As far as negatives go, I think the film may have dragged on a little. It is still my official view that all films should be two hours long at the very least and your plot should be good enough to carry you all the way. Of course, if your plot can’t hold out for that long, then accept the loss and cut some time out. The film could have cut out 15-30 minutes and it would have held up better. For example, letting Roberts get away after he was in disguise was one time too many for me. They should have just captured him and the exact same ending would have played out. We would have just skipped about 15-20 minutes where the heroes really do catch him. (We would have missed the sand fight, but I’m sure that they could have squeezed it in somewhere.

The Marshal’s boss could also be a little annoying at times. She keeps reminding the main character that he works for her so she can threaten him as much as she wants. She constantly reminds him that she doesn’t mind firing Samuel and she’s always giving him some kind of order. If she had been a little more helpful in the actual case it would be okay, but she typically isn’t. She’s just there to drag them all down with government policy. She only gets one hardcore scene with another politician and it was the Marshal’s idea.

It’s more of a formality at this point, but I’ll still mention the soundtrack. Unfortunately, it was pretty unmemorable and it was practically nonexistent. I can’t think of a single memorable tune and that’s always a bad sign. I wouldn’t really expect a soundtrack in this kind of film, but it’s still disappointing to see. A great soundtrack always has the potential to raise the film up an extra star so it could have come in handy here.

One more thing to mention is how the plane crew wasn’t very smart. One of the villains asks to go to the bathroom. Suuuuuuuure he needs to go…..that’s the oldest trick in the book. After they take him to the bathroom, the two cops leave to go talk. The villain has all day to grab his gun and head for the prisoners. Granted, the cops didn’t expect any guns to be on board, but they should have been paying attention. That was a pretty sloppy job on their part and they wouldn’t last a minute in Andy Griffith’s neighborhood.

Overall, U.S. Marshals was a pretty good film. It wasn’t great, but it was a fun watch and one that I would recommend to action fans or to people who like to watch government proceedings. It is more of a one and done deal though because this film has no real replay value. Films like this one rarely do since they rely on a lot of different plot twists throughout the feature. Why watch it again when you know everything that’s going to happen? It’s different for a film like Yugioh or the Avengers, but replay value doesn’t really affect the score anyway. (It would only hurt if I forgot to review this film and had to watch it again someday…) There’s definitely a lot to like in this film and hopefully you are prepared for it!

Overall 6/10

Volcano Review

It’s time to check out a classic disaster film! I’ve seen the world ravaged by Twisters, Aliens, Sharks, and more, but I had not seen a film that revolved around a Volcano sealing everyone’s fate. It sounded like an interesting film and I’m always up for some disaster mayhem. The film isn’t bad, but there aren’t many stand out scenes in it either, which leaves it stranded in the good, but forgettable section.

The plot of the film can easily be determined by the title, but I shall begin to describe it anyway. Mike works at a place where they handle emergencies and distress calls. Two men are destroyed from some heat and steam that arose from the ground and Mike figures that he should call in an expert. The other townsfolk, or the leader of the train company in particular, do not believe him so they continue with the trains. Eventually, this all climaxes into a big eruption as the Volcano begins to consume the land. Mike will need to gather up everyone he can to try and stop this catastrophe from taking out his city. It’ll be tough and while mankind can never hope to defeat Nature, they can try to slow it down and divert the power. Will such a strategy really be able to work!?

Of course, it’s interesting because the big fire danger doesn’t really occur until you’re around 60-90 minutes into the film, but there’s no other way to really describe the plot. We all know that the fire is going to start at some point thanks to the title so it really needs to be mentioned. Because of this, the film does suffer from some pacing problems. The first half of the film is pretty uneventful.

Volcano decided to take things slow and the first half is for character development and suspense building. This is a decent strategy I suppose, but it’s not one of my favorite ones. It works sometimes when you have to build up a bunch of different plots like in the disaster film I recently saw with Stallone as the heroes try to get out of a tunnel. It works because we get to meet and greet all of the characters. There is really only one big character plot going on in this film although we have some decent subplots. Nevertheless, the film did not need so much time to build up to the action. I think it really worked against the excitement factor in this one. The second half does help to make up for it as the battle against the lava is actually pretty interesting and it helps that Mike is likable so you’re rooting for the guy.

Mike Roark is the main lead of this film and he’s not bad. He’s one of the more heroic figures that we see, but he falls into his share of problems. I don’t get why he didn’t believe Amy when she said that a Volcano may be around. It’s really not that hard to believe and he saw first hand how hot it was underground. I don’t know, it just felt a little odd that he was so convinced that it couldn’t be a Volcano. Besides that, he did a good job of making plans and he kept on thinking of more when they were needed. He was a natural born leader and he did all of this on his day off. I can’t say that I appreciated his final move as he gave the phone to Emmit, but I suppose that it was one of the tough calls that he had to make. He ended up staying heroic overall and that’s what counts.

Kelly Roark is the daughter of the main character and she starts off as a pretty underwhelming character. Her first line made me worry as I thought that she was going to be a terrible supporting character. She didn’t really get much better for a while, but she ultimately learned what it means to be a good person and she turned over a new leaf. She’s much better than the kid that she was assigned to guard. That being said, I can’t say that Kelly turned out to be one of the more likable characters. She made the right characters, but it seemed to be more out of obligation at times and she was just going through the motions.

Emmit Reese is easily one of the main characters in the film. He’s the new chief whenever Mike isn’t around and he makes sure to use his new position for good. He doesn’t take his job with emotionless command like Mike, but he still does a pretty good job. His character was pretty good and he was someone that you could root for. I did feel bad for him at the end when Mike throws him into a tough situation, but he handled it with precision and care. Emmit may go on to surpass Mike when it comes to emergency control.

Stan Olber goes from zero to hero, but only arguably. Really, he may seem mean at first, but he’s running a business and he can’t stop his trains whenever there is a little danger. He has passengers to think of and they look forward to being in his trains. (Despite what they may say for the press) So, I didn’t mind him from the beginning, but he definitely got even better. When the stakes increased Stan ultimately stepped up to the plate and proved that he was a hero deep down. Because of this, Stan ends up being one of the better characters in the film. He may not get one of the happiest endings in the film, but he ended as a good person.

Amy Barnes is the professional who decides to help Mike out and she investigates the heat that has been taking lives and causing major injuries. She decides to evade the law to prove a point, but it only succeeds in causing a great tragedy. After that, she does help with a lot of the planning, but she wasn’t one of the more likable characters. She had some banter with Stan, but I can’t say that it was very great. She is really just a generic character who couldn’t leave a lasting impression.

Animal spoilers coming up……………and here it goes. I give the film props for avoiding the typical animal death scene. That moment nearly destroyed the film for me, but it was saved because the dog lived. Sorry if that’s a spoiler folks, but trust would have found out in my review either way. I would have deducted major points if he had died. It’s always good to see the dog make it out of such a dangerous situation and show the humans that he means business. They can’t compete with such a smart puppy after all.

There is one subplot that is pretty pointless. There’s a rich guy who buys a house and then he decides that he wants to escape the danger zones before the lava gets him. He tries to convince his partner to leave as well, but she is a doctor so she has to stay and help. He doesn’t like this and he basically says “We’re through” as he walks off. The plot didn’t have a purpose in the film and the Doctor didn’t get a whole lot of screentime so it really didn’t make much of a difference. It was really just there for drama and to show us how heroic the doctor was, but we already understood that from all of the risks that she was taking.

I can’t say that the film really did a good job with the emotional deaths though. One of them was pretty good and it involved a hero. The other two involved expendable characters who we hadn’t even gotten to meet yet. One of the main characters becomes saddened for a while, but the (fake) snow quickly snaps her out of it and she joins the fight once more. The other death happens so early on that I forgot who died. They may have said the name…maybe. Still, emotionless deaths are a staple of any horror, action, thriller, or disaster film since they help to show the audience why the threat is getting real. On that account, I cut Volcano some slack since it would be hard to develop the characters and then destroy them in such a short amount of time.

The soundtrack for the film was a little too dramatic. I technically enjoyed just about every tune that the film played, but it was mostly used in scenes where it just didn’t make sense. Now, it does make sense in the fact that it gets the audience ready for something tragic to happen. The problem is that most of the scenes are just false alarms and the danger doesn’t start for a while. We get dangerous music when the train first goes into the tunnel. Then, 30 minutes later, the train appears again and the danger finally starts. I suppose that it could work as a set up, but it’s just a little too soon to work properly. While the tunes didn’t really match the setting, I still did like the music a lot. I would give the soundtrack a 4/5 and it was a lot better than most (if not all) of the other disaster films that I’ve seen as well as the average action film.

Overall, this was a decent Disaster film. I think I was waiting for more of a disaster to happen while watching the film, but Volcanoes don’t typically blow up buildings so you have to wait. It was fun to see the lava spurts and there was definitely a lot of tension. Perhaps too much tension was included, but it happens. The main character was good and the rest of the cast varied in terms of likable to unlikable. The film got the dog scene right and that earns them some pretty major brownie points. I recommend this film if you want to see a thriller with lava as the main villain, but if you really want to get excited, go watch the Daylight film with Stallone.

Overall 5/10