Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2002. Paramount Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions. Story by Chap Taylor, Screenplay by Chap Taylor, Michael Tolkin. Cinematography by Salvatore Totino. Produced by Scott Rudin. Music by David Arnold. Production Design by Kristi Zea. Costume Design by Ann Roth. Film Editing by Christopher Tellefsen.
Compelling Hollywood thriller with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson as random strangers thrown together by destiny when their cars collide on a New York Freeway. Jackson is on his way to divorce court, while Affleck, a hotshot lawyer from a giant Manhattan firm, is late for a court date of his own. A careless Affleck decides to leave the scene without giving much personal information, not even offering Jackson a lift to the courthouse, and eventually realizes that he has left an important and completely necessary document behind him. Jackson, seeing the file as a trump card, holds on to it until he can exact proper revenge for what he loses as a result of Affleck’s callousness. It’s not a one-sided affair, though, and soon we see the two of them playing out various schemes to get each other back for what they keep doing to each other. It’s probably the worst day that either of them has encountered, but as the film continues we begin to question if they’re destroyed by it, or maybe are being given the chance to wipe the board clean and make their lives better. This film doesn’t achieve every single one of its aims to be a marked cut above conventional drama, but it certainly does a great, entertaining job trying, never compromising its focus on character development for brainless action or ever pandering to simpleminded morality. Affleck hasn’t been better in years as a golden boy who loses his innocence by truly getting a look around at the world around him, and Jackson is a shocking contrast to his powerfully cool Shaft as a broken man who has just taken too many beatings from his difficult life. Smaller roles are also first-rate, including a stunning Toni Collette as Affleck’s colleague and Amanda Peet (surprisingly good) as his soulless wife.