A 1999 thriller starring Ashley Judd
, Bruce Greenwood
and Tommy Lee Jones
. Directed by Bruce Beresford. The film begins with a wealthy couple going sailing with a yacht. The wife Elizabeth "Libby" Parsons (Judd) falls asleep for a while. When she awakes, her husband Nick (Greenwood) is nowhere to be found. What can be found is blood everywhere, on her body, her clothes, the boat's floors ... and on a knife placed on the deck. She has no idea what happened.
The Coast Guard soon arrests Libby for the murder of her husband. She goes on trial and is convicted. She entrusts her son Matty to a friend. During a phone conversation with his mother, Matty exclaims "Daddy" as if his father is actually with him. She starts suspecting that Nick is alive and well, faking his death and framing her for murder. A fellow prisoner advises her to wait until parole to do something about it, reminding Libby of the legal concept of double jeopardy: She can't be tried twice for the same crime.
Six years later, Libby is paroled and placed under the supervision of parole officer Travis Lehman (Jones). Her friend is dead and her son missing. She uses her time out to find Nick and Matty. Only now, two former spouses are out to kill each other. Lehman has to figure what is going on and make a stand of his own.
Not to be confused with the second round of the game show
The film provides examples of:
- Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: A post-coital Libby wakes up covered in blood. She follows the trail from their cabin to the deck of the boat, and of course, picks up the bloody knife that she finds there. Sure enough, the Coast Guard appears right then, with Libby looking exactly as how Nick wanted her to look—as though she just stabbed him and threw his body overboard.
- The Bluebeard: Nick. Gets rid of one woman by framing her for murder and sending her to prison, then tries to kill her when she gets out and tracks him down. Kills another when he either gets bored with her or worried that she'll spill the beans.
- Buried Alive: How Nick tries to get rid of Libby after she tracks him down.
- Car Fu: Libby uses her pickup truck to trash Lehman's car and drives over the sidewalk in order to get away from him.
- Clear My Name: Libby, regarding her husband. Not only did she not kill him, he's not even dead.
- Conveniently Timed Attack From Behind: Nick grabs her and knocks her out (during the cemetery scene), where he had said she'd meet their son.
- Distaff Counterpart/Gender Flip: A person wrongly convicted of murder escaping from custody, determined to track down those responsible, pursued and eventually aided by an equally determined lawman played by Tommy Lee Jones? No, this isn't The Fugitive (or another sequel), but as numerous reviews pointed out, it's essentially a female version of it.
- Faking the Dead: Nick. And Lehman and Libby threaten to pull the same stunt on Nick, regarding her, if he does not turn over their son.
- Hollywood Law: As pointed out by pretty much everyone, including this column, the whole plot runs on this. Ashley Judd is framed by her husband for his own murder and serves prison time. When she gets paroled, she hunts him down and brags that she could kill him and get away with it because she's already been convicted of that crime and double jeopardy means she can't be prosecuted for it again. Problem is, she was convicted of that crime (that is, of "murdering" him at that specific time, in that specific place). Hunting him down to another city and killing him there, then, would be another crime entirely, and thus she could be justly convicted of it. Not to mention the host of other crimes she committed, including burglary, theft, destruction of property, escape from custody, assault on a law enforcement officer, unlicensed possession of a firearm, transporting an unlicensed weapon across state lines, assault with intent to kill (all of them violating her parole, which would send her back to prison) and probably more, which could put her away for years themselves, perhaps even for the same time or longer than her original sentence. Not to mention the fact that she didn't actually kill him that first time...
- Killing someone who you were already convicted of murdering would simultaneously prove that prior conviction false, thus having it reversed, and make you eligible to be prosecuted on a new charge of murder. So, meta-irony.
- Moral of the story: don't take "legal" advice on how to murder your husband who framed you for his murder from anyone who's an ex-lawyer disbarred for murder. Chances are that character just wanted to wreak havoc by proxy, so fed her that line.
- Thus, while her (actual) shooting of her husband in the end was justified, she'd probably still be going to prison for equal or greater time than she was originally sentenced to (though they might give her a deal for time served if she agreed not to sue for millions over wrongful conviction. It would be a big "if" though).
- Idiot Ball: Nick attempts to kill Libby by burying her alive in an above ground tomb, and he doesn't take away her gun, although in all fairness, he might not have remembered that she had one. Libby counts too, for trusting Nick during the whole cemetery scene. Of course, she was desperate to see her son, but still. The irony of this is that she asked him to meet her in a public place to no doubt deter him from doing anything to her, only to fall into his trap anyway.
- Kiss Diss: As Libby publicly confronts her duplicitous husband, she turns her head as he tries to kiss her, invoking "oohs" from the observing crowd.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: How Nick got rid of Angie. After tracking them down, Libby is informed by a neighbor that she was killed when a gas main exploded beneath the home. Libby's deadpan response of "I'm sure" when the woman tells her how grief-stricken Nick was makes it clear that she knows what really happened.
- Miscarriage of Justice: Ashley Judd's character is wrongly convicted of murdering her husband and spends several years in prison.
- Oh, Crap: Nick's reaction when Libby approaches him at the gala, then when she confronts him in his office.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Ashley Judd (!) may not bulk up all that much, but she Took a Level in Badass — understandable since she's gaining skilz with which to murder the husband who framed her.
- Steel Ear Drums: Played straight to a ridiculous level. Libby fires a gun TWICE—right next to her ear—while trapped inside a sealed coffin. She cringed in pain momentarily, but is otherwise unharmed. In real life she'd have been left completely deaf.
- The Big Easy: The entire third act takes place in New Orleans, showing off as much of it as the film can squeeze in 30 minutes.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Probably one of the most glaring examples.
- Trapped in a Sinking Car: Libby is tied to a car in handcuffs, as she tries to escape the car she drives into the lake sinking rapidly.
- Wrongful Accusation Insurance: As discussed above, Libby commits numerous crimes in the course of tracking down her husband, whom she's planning to kill (and DOES kill, albeit by that point, it was a genuine case of self-defense rather than a revenge killing), all of which appear to have been completely disregarded by the time the film ends.
- Of course then the Police and justice system would have to admit they convicted a woman for killing a man who was still running around alive.