Double Jeopardy (1999 film)

Double Jeopardy is a 1999 American crime thriller film directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, and Bruce Greenwood. The film is about a woman wrongfully imprisoned for murder who, while eluding her parole officer, tracks down her husband who had framed her. Released on September 24, the film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $177 million.

Double Jeopardy
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBruce Beresford
Produced byLeonard Goldberg
Written byDavid Weisberg
Douglas Cook
Music byNormand Corbeil
CinematographyPeter James
Edited byMark Warner
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 24, 1999 (1999-09-24)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$70 million[2]
Box office$177.8 million[2]


Libby Parsons and her husband Nick are wealthy residents of Whidbey Island, Washington. With her best friend Angela Green offering to look after their four-year-old son, Matty, Libby and Nick go sailing for a romantic weekend. Libby awakens to find blood everywhere and her husband missing. The Coast Guard patrol, having received a distress call from Nick, arrives and finds Libby holding a bloody knife on deck.

Even with Nick's body unaccounted for, Libby is arrested, tried, and convicted of murder. Libby asks Angela to look after Matty while she is in prison. At first, Angela brings Matty to see Libby in prison, but the visits eventually cease, and Angela disappears with Matty. Libby tracks Angela to San Francisco and calls her. In the midst of their conversation, Nick enters the apartment, and Matty yells, "Daddy!" right before the line goes dead. Libby realizes that Nick faked his death and framed her, leaving Matty as the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy. After failing to get investigative help, a fellow inmate tells Libby to get paroled for good behavior by falsely claiming remorse for "killing" Nick. Once free, Libby can kill Nick with impunity due to the Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

After six years, Libby is paroled to a halfway house, under the close supervision of parole officer Travis Lehman, a former law professor whose wife left him due to his alcoholism. To search for Nick, Libby violates curfew and is caught breaking into Matty's old school on Whidbey Island to get Angela's records. As Lehman delivers Libby back to prison via a car ferry, he handcuffs her to the car door handle while he goes up top. As Libby damages the door handle, Lehman returns, and the car goes overboard as they struggle. Lehman uncuffs Libby, and she swims ashore as the ferry crew rescues Lehman. Libby flees to her family's mid-west farm, where her mother gives her cash.

Libby discovers that Angela recently died in Colorado in a home gas explosion, likely an accident staged by Nick. A clue leads her to New Orleans, where she finds Nick running a small luxury hotel under the alias Jonathan Devereaux. Libby confronts Nick during a fund-raising auction at his hotel and demands he return Matty in exchange for her walking away. Nick says he faked his death to collect insurance, as his business was going under. Libby discounts his claims he never believed she would go to jail.

Lehman arrives in New Orleans to warn Jonathan that Libby believes he is her dead husband and plans to kill him. Nick agrees to bring Matty to Libby and arranges to meet in Lafayette Cemetery No. 3. He uses a decoy boy to distract Libby, knocks her unconscious, and locks her in a casket inside a mausoleum. Using a handgun snatched from Lehman, Libby shoots off the casket's hinges and escapes.

After gathering clues while tracking her down, Lehman now believes Libby's story and obtains Nick's photo through the Washington State DMV. After intercepting Libby as she makes her way to Nick's hotel, the two team up. Lehman visits Nick in his office, says he knows Nick's true identity, and demands money to remain silent. He secretly tape records Nick's remarks implying he murdered Libby, the only witness to his previous life; Libby enters, holding Nick at gunpoint. Nick is given a choice of surrendering to the authorities or a vengeful Libby shooting him, who says she will go free because of double jeopardy. Nick pulls out a hidden gun, shoots Lehman and fires at Libby. Lehman pulls out his gun, but Nick overpowers him until Libby shoots Nick dead.

Lehman promises to help Libby get fully pardoned, and they later travel to Matty's boarding school in Georgia. Matty, now eleven years old, recognizes his mother and they reunite.


Production notesEdit

After Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan and Brooke Shields all declined the role, Jodie Foster was attached to star in the film as Libby Parsons and Bruce Beresford met with her several times about the script:

She said to me once, when we were having . . .not an argument, we had different points of view over something, and she said, 'We'll have to do it my way, I'm afraid.' And I said, 'Why, Jodie?' And she said, 'Because I'm so intelligent. I'm such an intelligent person that there is no point in disagreeing with me because I'm always right.' I thought she was joking, but she wasn't! [laughs] She had this extraordinary opinion of her own IQ.[3]


On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 27% based on 86 reviews and an average rating of 4.44/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "A talented cast fails to save this unremarkable thriller."[4] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 40 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[6]

Roger Ebert gave the film two and a half stars out of four, and said "This movie was made primarily in the hopes that it would gross millions and millions of dollars, which probably explains most of the things that are wrong with it."[7] Leonard Maltin gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "slick entertainment".[8] Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the film is a "well-acted diversion, directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) with an intelligent grasp of the moment-to-moment emotion".[9] For her performance in the film Ashley Judd won Favorite Actress at the 6th Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.[10]


Award Category Subject Result
MTV Movie Award Best Female Performance Ashley Judd Nominated
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actress - Suspense Won
Favorite Actor - Suspense Tommy Lee Jones Nominated
Favorite Supporting Actor - Suspense Bruce Greenwood Nominated

Box officeEdit

The film spent three weeks as the No. 1 film. It grossed $116 million in the US and $61 million overseas.[2]


  1. ^ "Double Jeopardy (EN)". Lumiere. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Double Jeopardy. Box Office Mojo.
  3. ^ Andrew L. Urban, BERESFORD, BRUCE : DOUBLE JEOPARDY, Urban Cinesfile accessed 11 November 2012
  4. ^ Double Jeopardy. Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. ^ "Double Jeopardy Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  6. ^ "CinemaScore".
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. Double Jeopardy. Sep. 24. 1999.
  8. ^ Leonard Maltin; Luke Sader; Mike Clark (2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Penguin Group. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9.
  9. ^ LaSalle, Mick. Criminally Good. San Francisco Chronicle. September 24, 1999
  10. ^ "Blockbuster Entertainment Award winners". Variety. May 9, 2000. Retrieved May 20, 2013.

External linksEdit