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Changing Lanes

One Wrong Turn Deserves Another 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Mr S L Jackson has hardly been the most shy and retiring actor during 2002 - with four film credits to his name, surely he's amassing money enough to build a huge underground layer and begin his plans to rule the world. However, if in his quest for world domination he continues to turn in performances like this, then I for one shall not be complaining, at least until he stops acting and starts unleashing the sharks with fricking laser beams attached to their heads.

"Changing Lanes" is a film that takes a single, minor incident, then runs away with it, effectively seeing how far two ordinary people in an intrinsically ordinary situation can spiral out of control, and make their lives extraordinary. In this case, the incident is a fender-bender on a busy New York road, in which Ben Affleck (on his way to court to make lots of money) and Sammy L (on his way to court to fight for custody of his children) collide. After Affleck has made his excuses and legged it, leaving Jackson soaked to the skin and with no lift to court, events begin to take a decided change for the worse. Jackson finds an extremely important file of Affleck's at the scene of the accident and takes it as collateral, Affleck finds out what happens and demands it back, and suddenly these two seemingly ordinary people are doing whatever they can to destroy their new-found nemeses.

This is essentially a one-idea movie, but luckily it is one in which the central idea is so strong, and so inherently believable, that we cannot help but be taken along for a very bumpy ride by the two leads. Jackson in particular impresses as the recovering alcoholic and hopeful family man Doyle Gipson, who "simply" wants for Affleck's character to give him his time back, so he can get to court in time and not lose his children. Affleck, as the ambitious lawyer Gavin Banek, is hardly a revelation - if you don't like the standard Affleck performance, then this film is not going to be an epiphany for you. However, as the cocky lawyer, he couldn't be put to better use. Able support is supplied by Toni Collette and William Hurt (all too briefly), but this is very much a two man show, and the two leads carry it admirably.

"Changing Lanes" is yet another big budget Hollywood offering that taps successfully into the zeitgeist, in this case the worry of random acts of violence and the terrible destructive powers of the unseen enemy. For all its posturing, it is an intensely personal film, about two men's journey into their own hearts of darkness, and the palpable possibility of forgiveness and redemption.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)