Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Film Review: Changing Lanes (2002)

Changing Lanes (Review)
United States/2002
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...an effective drama with superb thriller elements."

A New York attorney and an insurance salesman bump heads after a car accident causes their lives to spiral out of control...

Changing Lanes follows Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) and Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson). Gavin is an attorney rushing to file a power of appointment, which proves his law firm legally controls a deceased philanthropist's foundation. While recklessly changing lanes in his hurry, Banek causes an accident with Doyle. Banek leaves in a rush, conveniently forgetting his file and leaving Doyle stranded. Unfortunately, Doyle was also headed to court for a divorce hearing, which doesn't go well due to his tardiness. Doyle, however, finds leverage in Banek's file. The pair descend into chaos as they ruthlessly attack one another. The film leads to a decent conclusion; nothing extraordinary or unforgettable, but satisfying and even touching.

Changing Lanes is a great film. It's full of suspense and thrills. It seamlessly tumbles from one situation to another as this battle escalates — and this seesaw battle always leaps to the next level  — from financial threats to malicious car adjustments. It's always on its toes and it's always engaging. Although there are some missing bits in the characters, I also liked their arcs — it was interesting to watch these characters evolve throughout the dilemma. It is often contrived, though. There are a handful of moments that follow the same formula: one of the character is about to apologize, while the other is taking the vengeance further — they always miss each other by a hair. Otherwise, I think it stands as a great thriller.

Ben Affleck is serviceable in this role. He's often great, but he's mostly just serviceable —  which isn't bad, but he could've been better. Samuel L. Jackson, on the other hand, is superb. Jackson plays his hopeful-but-self-destructive excellently — he conveys the perfect emotion through his anger and frustration, you can feel it through the screen. The supporting cast is strong, too. The film looks and sounds great. I liked the fluid audio-visual editing, it made the film feel seamless and faster. Director Roger Michell captures this seesaw battle with his engaging direction. Atop the well-written narrative, Michell crafts every scene with finesse and care as each scene leapfrogs over to another without ever compromising the themes.

Overall, Changing Lanes is a great film. It's an effective drama with superb thriller elements. It has strong characters, a grueling dilemma, and well-crafted suspense. It is reliant on plot contrivances, but it ultimately works out. If you're looking for something fast and thrilling, you should change onto this lane. (No? Okay...)

Score: 8/10 
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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