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CHANGING LANES (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 17, 2009 by  



“A riveting and provocative thriller with many twist and turns and showing us the worst of vindictive human nature when one is consumed by anger and are pushed to the edge.  Featuring a wonderful performance by Samuel L. Jackson.”

Images courtesy of © 2002 by Paramount Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: CHANGING LANES

DURATION: 98 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English  5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

RATED: R (for Language)

COMPANY: Paramount Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: May 19, 2009

Directed by Roger Michell

Story and Screenplay by Chap Taylor

Executive Produced by Ronald M. Bozman and Adam Schroeder

Produced by Scott Rudin

Co-Produced by Scott Aversano

Music by David Arnold

Director of Photography: Salvatore Totino

Edited by Christopher Tellefsen

Casting by Marcia DeBonis and Ellen Lewis

Production Design by Kristi Zea

Art Direction by W. Steven Graham

Set Decoration by Debra Schutt

Costume Design by Ann Roth

Starring:

Ben Affleck as Gavin Banek

Samuel L. Jackson as Doyle Gipson

Sydney Pollack as Stephen Delano

Toni Collette as Michelle

William Hurt as Doyle’s Sponsor

Kim Staunton as Valerie Gipson

Amanda Peet as Cynthia Delano Banek

Bruce Altman as Terry Kaufman

Tina Sloan as Mrs. Delano

Richard Jenkins as Walter Arnell

Akil Walker as Stephen Gipson

Cole Hawkins as Danny Gipson

Modern society draws lines between right and wrong, good and evil, rage and redemption.  A moment of self-absorption and a spark of anger will cause two men to cross them.  As the battle of wills escalate, both lives are changed forever.  Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck star in a provocative and gripping drama that exposes the best and worst in all of us.

In 2002, “CHANGING LANES” kicked off the Summer movie lineup.  Directed by Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”, “Persuasion”, etc.) and a screenplay/story by Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin (“The Player”, “The Rapture”, “Deep Impact”, etc.), the film which stars Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson was a financial success and grossed over $94 million worldwide.

The film revolves around two men, young New York attorney Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) and insurance salesman Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson).

Gavin and his law firm is being fought by the family of an elderly man who died but supposedly signed  $300 million worth of assets to the law firm that Gavin works for (owned by the father of Gavin’s wife Cynthia). Gavin has to rush from his law office to the court to file a power of appointment.

Doyle Gipson is a recovering alcoholic who wants to make good for his wife and children.  His estranged wife has separated from him but Gipson has worked hard to get a house for the family and has to get to court to gain custody of his children before she takes them back to Oregon.  He has secured a loan to put a down payment on a house and all things look good for him.  Doyle believes that his children should not be without their father and so he gets prepared to go to court.

While both men are off to their destination, Gavin who is rushing through traffic and changing lanes, crashes into Doyle and his car is out of commission.  Doyle wants his insurance information but Gavin who is in a rush gives him a blank check and tells him that he needs to leave.  Doyle said he needs to leave to and if he can at least give him a ride.  Gavin, in his egotistical way, tells Doyle “Better luck next time”.  What Gavin doesn’t know is that the documents that he needs for court, he accidentally dropped it and now its in the possession of Doyle.

Gavin manages to make it to court on time, telling the judge that he was in an accident.  But when it comes to presenting the papers to show proof that the deceased man signed away his assets, Gavin is unable to produce the power of appointment documents and realizes that he may have given it to Doyle when they were exchanging insurance information..  The judge gives him a chance to get his folder back but if he doesn’t produce the documents, his law firm may be liable for defrauding the plaintiff and her family.

As for Doyle, he was not so lucky.  Arriving to court late makes him look bad and the judge has no patience with him, despite him being in an accident.  He gives custody to his wife and his wife is prepared to bring the kids to Oregon.  After losing in court, Doyle takes the folder and throws it into the trash.

Gavin is now stressed out because he doesn’t know how he can find Doyle and get the folder back.  But he manages to spot Doyle walking, and looking dejected after his court appearance.  Gavin tries to get his folder back by apologizing to Doyle but learns that he threw it away.  Now, Gavin is in a mess and feels Doyle has screwed his life up.

Earlier, Gavin was told by his father-in-law and law firm owner Stephen Delano (Sydney Pollack) that he could become a partner in the law firm but when he tells his father about losing the power of attorney document, Stephen threatens Gavin and tells him that he better find the documents immediately or else…

Meanwhile, Doyle retrieves the folder from the document and pissed about what Gavin has done to him, leaves him a note that he has the folder and will not give it back.

Gavin now upset confides his situation to his co-worker/mistress Michelle (Toni Collette) who tells him that if he wanted to get back at Doyle, he can do something quite serious.  Gavin tells her that he will do anything to get the folder back, so immediately he goes to a hacker.  Gavin pays $5,000 to get Doyle’s financial situation changed to being bankrupt and feeling that he now won, leaves a threatening message to Doyle that if he wants his finances to be OK, he better return the folder.

As for Doyle, his depression about the whole day gets the best of him and after being sober for so long, starts drinking alcohol again.  When two men at the bar start making jokes about Tiger Woods playing golf.  Doyle returns with a story about Tiger Woods and his father and returns the joke back on them and embarrassing them.  While on the pay phone and talking to his estranged life about what had happened earlier, the men who made the Tiger Woods go up to him and try to give him a talking.  Not being in a happy mood, Doyle gets violent and beats up the two men.

An hour or so has passed and Doyle has calmed down.  What is done is done and Doyle is about to be nice and return the documents back to Gavin, because it is the right thing to do.  He then hears about problems from the loan company and then he hears a threatening message left by Gavin and realizes that Gavin has screwed him again.  So, Doyle calls Gavin and tells him that he will return the folder back to him if he eliminates the bankruptcy.

As for Doyle, he goes to the loan company to see if things are still good for the downpayment on his home.  He realizes that he is bankrupt and he will not be getting the loan payment any longer.  Doyle goes through a tirade and feels that Gavin, yet again, screwed up his life.

When Gavin goes to meet Doyle to get the folder, they drive on the freeway.  When Gavin calls the hacker to fix eliminates Doyle’s bankruptcy, he learns that it’s not possible.  While looking at Doyle in the next lane, Doyle shows him his bolt for his tires and realizes that Doyle has loosened his wheel from his car.  Immediately, Doyle gets in a car accident and is saved by his emergency air bag.

The men now go back and forth with their anger towards the other person and their thirst of gaining revenge against each other.   But how far would one go to make their point and hurt the other person?

“CHANGING LANES” is a compelling story of two men who had normal lives and then because of this accident, their lives are changed forever.  Now driven by anger and revenge, the film is a thriller that will surprise the viewer on how far these men will go to destroy the other.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“CHANGING LANES” receives its High Definition treatment with a 1080p transfer (with an aspect ration of 2:35:1).  The Blu-ray release is quite solid as we see the details in the men’s skin (many close up shots).  The picture quality does show some presence of grain and also dust speckles but nothing that deters you from watching.  The film utilizes a bluish hue during outdoor scenes and amber during indoor scenes.  In fact, it seems to have been shot during overcast, so it’s not a film where you would see any color vibrancy.   There is a slight softness to the picture quality but found no artifacting.  Overall, compared to the original DVD, this transfer of “CHANGING LANES” looks very good.

As for audio, “CHANGING LANES” sports and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track (and also Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital).  The film is primarily a dialogue driven film but there are scenes that utilize natural ambiance during crowd scenes and sounds that get really cool use of audio during the sprinkler scene and even the car accident scene.

If anything, the film is primarily front channel driven with not much utilization of low frequency bass from the subwoofer or the rear surrounds.  The good news is that the audio is clear and understandable, the disappointing news is that the soundtrack does not take advantage of all speaker channels for the action scene.  So, you get an average soundtrack at best.

Subtitles are featured in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“CHANGING LANES” features the following special features in standard definition with the exception of the theatrical trailer which is in HD:

  • Audio Commentary by director Roger Michell – An interesting insight of the film from Director Roger Michell.  Commentary seemed slow at times but there were a good amount of behind-the-scene tidbits on working with the various talent, deviations from the original screenplay but most of all, how they wanted to handle the scenes that featured the World Trade Center as he felt despite shooting the footage in Jan. 2001, having removed it post 9/11 but then deciding to keep the Twin Towers in the final cut.  Michell is very complimentary to his cast and crew but showing how people working on the film did a wonderful job when it came to cinematography and even production design.
  • The Making of Changing Lanes – A 15 minute featurette that is a making-of, with interviews with the cast and crew about the making of “CHANGING LANES”.  And quite interesting that you have the movie man doing voice overs at the beginning and end.
  • A Writer’s Perspective – A six minute featurette on the overall screenplay with interviews with screenplay writers Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin who both seem to enjoy the lunch between Gavin and his wife.
  • Deleted Scenes – A total of two deleted scenes.  One featuring Gavin with a student Gordon Pinella who needed to be interviewed for a job and another with Doyle meeting with his boss in regards to his performance at work.  Two scenes that deserved to be cut from the film.
  • Extended Scene – Featuring a single extended scene when Gavin was at the church and in the confession booth as he puts the blame on Doyle for what is happening with his life.  In the film, we know how Gavin’s state of mind, so I’m glad they shortened it in the film and not let it run this long.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer in HD.

“CHANGING LANES” was a film that definitely had an interesting premise.  What if these two men who feel their lives were wrecked because of their one incident, tried to one up each other and nearly destroy themselves in the process.

People who let their anger and their hatred get the best of them and while its nearly too late, just enough time to see how they let it go too far.

What Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin are able to come up with for the screenplay is to manipulate the audience into rooting for a certain side and then you just realize that these two men are just too flawed and are way over their heads.

If anything, it’s the “what if” that becomes an entertaining experiment of exposing the human element of revenge.  We hear and read about vindictive people getting back to each other, “CHANGING LANES” shows people of that unthinkable moral potential if one is able to go too far.

Samuel Jackson does a wonderful job of playing the character of Doyle Gipson but most of all, a man that has his own demons to contend with and in one scene, is told that he enjoys living in chaos.  If anything, the interaction with Jackson’s Gipson and Affleck’s Gavin Banek made Affleck’s performance much more believable.  Sydney Pollack, Kim Staunton and Toni Collette also do well onscreen despite their short duration onscreen.

Overall, “CHANGING LANES” is one of those clever films that is enjoyable but as for owning it on Blu-ray, its left to the viewer’s choice if its a film worthy of repeated viewings.

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