Choices in life need to be made every single day of our lives. Not all of them require a lot of thought or are even really give much consideration simply because we just make them without realizing. Sometimes the actions we take and the choices we make don’t only affect our lives, but play a big part in those of others. Whether we mean to or not, everything that happens throughout the course of our day will change the way someone else lives their life. Now if we actually stop to think things over and consider the outcome of all we do; then perhaps that is a different story and makes how we live our lives a little better. But what if the things we do will negatively affect someone else and we don’t even care? That’s when the old saying of “what goes around comes around” really gets a lot more attention then usual.
Doyle Gipson is a man that is trying to get his life back on track and that comes with recovering from alcohol abuse and also focusing on getting his family back. In order to get custody, or at least some, of his two boys at a soon to be court hearing; Gipson must prove that he is sober and has a stable life for all of them. The other side of the spectrum sees a hotshot lawyer named Gavin Banek that pretty much has everything going right for him in his life. En route to a court hearing one day and running a tad late; Banek cuts off a vehicle causing the other drive to slam into some barrels and virtually total his car. Banek simply doesn’t have the time to deal with the accident at the time and since his car is drivable, he just takes off for his court date. The man on the other end of that accident also had an important appointment to get to and now Doyle Gipson was running late.
Upon arriving at the custody hearing; the judge rules that Gipson isn’t competent enough to show up late and have things in perfect order to get his children back. His life has fallen apart thanks to the inconsiderate actions of a man in a rich, fancy car. Banek on the other hand is having problems of his own after leaving the scene of the accident and leaving a file behind that is very important for his court case. A little bit of poking around reveals that Gipson has the file and he is out to make sure that Banek’s life suffers the same kind of hardships that his now has. A game of cat and mouse has begun as Banek can pull some mighty underhanded strings to get what he wants, but Gipson is a man with nothing to lose and determined to stand his ground.
Changing Lanes is one of those films that I really love because of the fantastic way it takes a couple actors you wouldn’t normally see in such characters and makes them a reality. Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck play some comedy roles or action roles or even bad ass roles, but it isn’t often that you see them in the role of someone set out to inflict emotional pain on someone. Here they take revenge deep into their souls and make it a point to set out and cause the other to end up in the worst situations imaginable. The best part is just how natural they seem in the roles of Banek and Gipson though making them seem even more real and believable. Affleck shows the cockiness that a young lawyer would have but shows no remorse when he uses his authority wrongly and takes advantage of his resources. Jackson shows plenty of care and love for his family but displays awesome qualities of a silent and ruthless assassin in how he knows exactly how to hurt Banek.
It’s truly a great story of revenge that seems rather dark and as if it is going to continue down a path of no remorse and sheer evil. Rather then take the same route that the fantastic film Arlington Road took, Changing Lanes proceeded to kind of turn things around so that most people wouldn’t walk away disappointed. I can’t help but say that my feelings were a little hurt but I’m morbid so that’s not really saying much for anyone else that may check out this film. It just goes to show you though that no matter whom you are, we all have those kinds of horrible qualities and despicable capabilities that we all swear are not deep inside us. Push someone far enough and they’re bound to show their ugly head eventually.
All of the hatred and evil is shown in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it is a film that looks really good even though it has mostly a dark hue over it. Things look great here and the few bright colors truly stand out considering how gloomy the rest of the film looks which is of course intentional.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it comes through really well although this isn’t one of those films that really puts anything but the center speaker to good use. All dialogue can be heard well but then mostly just the music filters around the room and the occasional thunder clap or sounds of an accident.
Audio Commentary – Director Roger Mitchell is flying solo for this commentary track and it is one of those cases when he could have really used another voice or two. While there is a good bit of information dealing with behind the scenes’ stuff and even an interesting tidbit or two about filming in New York after 9/11; things start to get really drab and boring about thirty minutes in. Hell, there are even moments when there is a ton of silence because Mitchell either has run out of things to say or is simply suffering from not having anyone else to play off of.
The Making Of Changing Lanes – A very basic and generic “making of” featurette here as cast and crew give their thoughts on the film and a little backstage footage is shown. Nothing very interesting whatsoever. (15:00)
A Writer’s Perspective – Writers Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin discuss their inspiration for writing the script and things they want people to come away with from the film. Not bad, but good thing it’s kept short because it isn’t overly entertaining. (6:30)
Deleted/Extended Scenes – There are only two deleted scenes here; neither of which is worth much of anything.
Changing Lanes is a great story of pettiness, revenge, and the evil of the human world. My only complaint is that it comes out of the gate being so incredibly awesome with the horrible unfairness of life and how even the nicest people know how to be underhanded and vengeful but then it fades off into Hollywood ending which sucks. It doesn’t necessarily suck per se, but it did take all the wind out of my sails for a rather anti-climatic ending. Quite a shame that the Blu-ray release didn’t get better treatment in the special features’ department but they truly are all pretty useless. Grab this one on a rental and see if it is worth your while to purchase it merely for the film alone because anything added on just doesn’t rate the money you’d spend to own it. Watch yourself out on those highways though because there are bound to be people out there like the characters in this film. Or even some like me and I suffer from road rage like bad.
Paramount presents Changing Lanes. Directed by: Roger Mitchell. Starring: Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Toni Collette, Sydney Pollack, William Hurt, Amanda Peet. Written by: Chap Taylor & Michael Tolkin. Running time: 98 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: May 19, 2009. Available at Amazon.com