Changing Lanes (2002)
Fender Bender Contenders
Better luck next time - Gavin Banek
You are in a supermarket and someone barges in to you with a shopping trolley, they glare at you as if it's your fault before walking off, do you ignore it and move on or do you hit out and give them a piece of your mind. In a way that is what "Changing Lanes" is about an incident which gets blown completely out of proportion because the two people involved are desperate and under pressure from different sides. It is not as some may have thought if they saw the trailer a revenge movie where these two people try and battle it out but a movie about what these two men will do and what they discover about themselves.
Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson - Deep Blue Sea) is a recovering alcoholic who is getting his life in order so that hopefully the court will award him joint custody of his children. Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck - Boiler Room) is a high flying corporate lawyer on the way to court to file important papers. When they accidentally collide on the FDR Gavin hasn't got the time to deal with things properly and ends up leaving Doyle stranded with no way of getting to his custody hearing in time. But he also leaves an important file behind and when he discovers this he has to try and get Doyle to give him it back, but why should he.
"Changing Lanes" is really a very simple movie, Doyle has something Gavin wants and because Gavin was the reason he missed an important court hearing he's not going to just nicely help him out. So Gavin turns nasty and Doyle turns nastier with the nastiness increasing with each misdoing. Gavin has a computer hacker mess with Doyle's financial records, Doyle removes the wheel nuts on Gavin's car. But the thing is that whilst that may make "Changing Lanes" sound like an Eye for an Eye type revenge movie it is far from it. Oh we have action, drama and nastiness but that is not the focus of it.
Nope the focus of it is the characters and what they do under pressure from outside sources. Gavin, under pressure from his bosses will do anything to retrieve the lost file and because he does Doyle is forced to retaliate whilst still trying to sort things so that his wife won't leave with the children for Detroit. As this plays out both the characters learn stuff about themselves, about how they have changed and how society has forced them to bend their beliefs. That may sound heavy but it isn't because director Roger Michell does a good job of exploring this side with out it ever becoming ponderous, in fact he keeps things moving and creates a great atmosphere which makes it surprisingly thrilling.
Now with this being about the characters it does come down to two performances, Ben Affleck as Gavin and Samuel J. Jackson as Doyle with both delivering top performances. In a way both actors are in their comfort zone, Affleck playing the almost spoilt rich kid type character whilst Jackson has that sense of fire and brimstone about him when he gets angry but it works. You can actually connect to both characters despite being a bit unreal in their extreme actions.
What this all boils down to is that "Changing Lanes" is an interesting and entertaining movie which rather than delivering obvious action goes for character depth. And to be honest there is nothing wrong with it although it's not the sort of movie you will go out of your way to watch more than once.
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