19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Underrated Movies in Years
South African director Roger Michell directs this hit suspense thriller starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. Michell is actually very skilled and has a tremendous amount of mainstream appeal. He also directed last years Venus, which was another solid film albeit very different from Changing Lanes. Ben Affleck plays Gavin, a successful Wall Street attorney who...
Published on July 5, 2007 by K. Driscoll
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Better luck next time."
Nice-guys-finish-last fable concerning a Yuppie Wall Street lawyer (Ben Affleck) and a reformed alcoholic (Samuel L. Jackson) whose paths violently intersect on the FDR Expressway. The despicable young lawyer is on his way to probate court to cheat some money out of a philanthropist's heir (see the heavy theme coming?); the alcoholic is on his way to divorce court...
Published on November 28, 2002
Most Helpful First | Newest First
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Underrated Movies in Years,
South African director Roger Michell directs this hit suspense thriller starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. Michell is actually very skilled and has a tremendous amount of mainstream appeal. He also directed last years Venus, which was another solid film albeit very different from Changing Lanes. Ben Affleck plays Gavin, a successful Wall Street attorney who must file a power of appointment for his company, which is run by his father-in-law played by Sydney Pollack. The document will sign a company over to his law firm and that company is owned by a dying man. Ethical questions certainly surround the document and as things unfold we find out even more. Doyle is played by Samuel L. Jackson, he is an insurance salesman and a recovering alcoholic who wants badly to restore his family before his wife takes his children away to the west coast. We get the feeling that Doyle is a wounded man and his actions are unacceptable at times. Actually both characters are deeply flawed and that is what makes their collision so engaging.
On his way to court to file this crucial document, Gavin gets into a car accident with Doyle. He doesn't prioritize the accident and instead must leave the scene to make it to court on time. Doyle's car will not drive and he is in the middle of a highway median when Gavin takes off in a rush. It of course begins to rain. Doyle himself was on his way to court and when he eventually gets there he finds out that he is too late. His goal was to surprise his wife with a mortgage loan he just received so his family would stay. He was attempting to get some resolution to whatever chaos he may have caused his family before this movie begins. Unfortunately for Gavin the power of appointment was left at the scene of the accident and is in Doyle's possession. Doyle, sour for being left in the rain on the highway and missing his chance in court, refuses to give Gavin the document. Needless to say they both have reasonable vendettas against one another and the battle they have escalates throughout as the film goes forward. These two men are basically dehumanized to one another and it doesn't help matters that they both come from entirely different worlds. They are opposites in life, so they are fundamentally opposed to one another when the first sign of conflict surfaces. It turns out that Changing Lanes evolves into a unique commentary on the darkest sides of human nature. It is unique because we visit these dark decisions by way of likeable and real character portrayals. To avoid spoilers, I won't reveal anymore than I have already.
Samuel L. Jackson is obviously an outstanding actor and he is great here but the most surprising thing is Ben Affleck matches him and then some. It's a shame Ben's reputation as an actor was so horrible at the time Changing Lanes came out because his performance definitely deserved some praise. Sydney Pollack is also outstanding as an exceptionally believable and accessible villain. A lot of the credit goes to the screenplay here for exposing pragmatic reactions to specific circumstances instead of superficial morality. There are no purely ethical and moral figures in Changing Lanes, but then again I can't think of too many in real life either. If they did exist in Changing Lanes then its commentary would be disrupted completely, but I still held out hoping reason would creek into the picture. Chaos reigns here and humanity is called upon to prevail. It puts suspense on a much larger societal scale for me. I know that the ending bothered those hoping for something more retributive but try to see Changing Lanes as a story about healing, not revenge.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb thriller and character study.,
Changing Lanes happens to feature two movie stars in the lead roles and is funded by Paramount Pictures, one of the top film production studios. So is it with anything less than pure surprise that this doesn't turn out to be an action or buddy picture? Not only does this film happen to be a character-driven thriller, it's also an intriguing look at societal pressures on the human individual, delivering in a manner that is intense, edgy, and perhaps even quite frightening.
Ben Affleck stars as Gavin Banek and Samuel L. Jackson is Doyle Gipson. Banek is a high-priced lawyer who is ready to finalize a big deal with will turn over a recently deceased millionaire's entire fortune to his firm. Gipson is a recovering alcoholic who's doing everything he can (mainly by purchasing a house in Queens for them to settle in) to save his marriage and keep his wife from taking the children and moving to another state. Both Banek and Gipson are on their way to court when their cars crash into each other.
Gipson wants to get everything done legally, "the right way," but Banek is in too much of a hurry, so he simply leaves a blank check and takes off to court, leaving the other man stranded. However, Banek leaves the most important file at the scene of the accident (which Gipson is now in possession of), and Gipson misses his own court hearing, losing any chance for custody of his kids to his wife. Banek's determination to get the file back and Gipson's anger and frustration turns this cross of paths into a game of cat-and-mouse and revenge which makes for probably the most lopsided day of their lives.
Changing Lanes is a film that surprised me almost every minute of the way. There's a lot of plot and theme at work here, but I want to emphasize that this is hardly pretentious filmmaking; it's an honest look at just how far pressure can push normal men, as well as how such pressure can bring out the best qualities in these same people. After a rather clumsy introduction and a chaotically directed crash scene that felt rather rushed, the film settled in comfortably into its main story. On the surface, the movie plays perfectly well as a thriller, certainly enough to satisfy thriller buffs looking for hard-edged suspense.
But further yet, the film becomes a character study of two men who lead opposite lives, but perhaps aren't as dissimilar as each may think. Rich and affluent, Affleck's Banek is a man on the top, but despite his seemingly arrogant and impatient behavior, he displays a moral and conflicted center, torn by what's right and what everyone else-namely his boss, co-workers, wife-says is right. Undoubtedly the most complex character Affleck has ever played, this is also the young actor's best performance to date.
Samuel L. Jackson is easily one of the best actors around, and his portrayal here is absolutely terrific, perhaps his most substantial performance since his role in Pulp Fiction. Gipson is certainly less priveleged than Banek, and this societal gap displays an interesting effect once things get out of hand. Gipson represents the majority of us, the working middle class that's frustrated when fate hands him a wrong turn. The disastrous day that Gipson endures is affecting, and it's both simultaneously crushing and exhilarating to see a reasonable man go to the extremes.
There are far more themes at work here, and I've only touched on the surface. For instance, there's a powerful scene where Amanda Peet (as Banek's wife) delivers a coldly manipulative speech that clues us in as to why Banek would cheat on his beautiful wife with a less physically attractive, but far kinder, more emotionally supportive woman (played well by Toni Collete). Another similarly powerhouse sequence is Sydney Pollack's (playing Banek's boss) diatribe on ethics in business and why the cutthroat method is the only effective tool for pressing business matters. With an abundance of moments like these, there's so much theme at work in the script that the film simply demands repeat viewings.
Changing Lanes is always entertaining, thanks to Roger Mitchell's well-paced and sure-handed direction, and the script never falters when it comes to both story and thematic material, mixing both together without ever coming off as preachy. The film has lots to offer, and for viewers willing to take the ride, the rewards are plentiful. It's been a fine year for movies so far, and without a doubt, Changing Lanes is one of the best cinematic offerings to date.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Better luck next time.",
By A Customer
Nice-guys-finish-last fable concerning a Yuppie Wall Street lawyer (Ben Affleck) and a reformed alcoholic (Samuel L. Jackson) whose paths violently intersect on the FDR Expressway. The despicable young lawyer is on his way to probate court to cheat some money out of a philanthropist's heir (see the heavy theme coming?); the alcoholic is on his way to divorce court to battle his ex-wife over custody of their two boys. Their collision will adversely affect the outcomes of their respective court-dates: Jackson will be late to his hearing and subsequently lose custody of his kids; Affleck, after pompously leaving Jackson a blank check for auto repair and a more-important-than-thou "Better luck next time", gets to HIS appointment on time . . . but he also left behind some paperwork that would assist him in his unethical dealings at the probate hearing. Through the rest of the movie's duration, we witness one-upsmanships of escalating nastiness: ticked at Affleck, Jackson refuses to return the probate documents; Affleck responds by screwing with Jackson's credit rating, etc. etc. . . . It all has something to do with the fragility -- and importance -- of common decency in society. However, the casting of Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson unavoidably shrinks this theme down to traditional race issues. Which is fine, mind you; but I think the writers were trying to go for something with universal applications. In any case, the movie errs by cramming too many hostilities between the warring parties within one measly 12-hour-period. There's no reason why this battle could not have lasted for a good week or so. Indeed, a leisurely time-frame might have generated more suspense, as in, "What in the world is that guy going to do to me tomorrow? And how can I get him back?" Each man obsessively planning his next move, raising the stakes just a wee bit higher, would've been mordantly funny and dramatic. Instead, we're given a flurry of activity in an unbelievably short amount of time, leading to an equally unbelievable "happy" ending. The sudden changes of fortune (and of heart) don't jibe with the sadistic carnage each man has unleashed on each other.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more to it than there first appears to be,
Changing Lanes pulls a fast one on you. No, I'm not talking about a shocking plot twist. What I mean is that it lets you think that it's a tale of the vengeance that two men inflict on one another after a traffic accident causes more trouble than they could have imagined, but really it's much more than that. It's about self-preservation, and how much a man is willing to do to protect himself, even if it means hurting someone else.
The two men are Gavin Baneck (Ben Affleck) and Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson). Gavin, a Wall Street lawyer, is on his way to a court hearing to prove that he acted on behalf of a client and not out of self-interest, which would put him in jail - and he's got the paperwork to prove it. Doyle is also on his way to a hearing to prove that he should retain joint custody of his two young children, because he's a recovering alcoholic and is about to buy a home for all of them to live in.
When they get into the accident, Gavin leaves Doyle stranded, saying, "Better luck next time," but he also leaves behind a file that is crucial to his hearing. By the time Doyle makes it to his appointment, it's already over and sole custody has been rewarded to his ex-wife. Gavin, not wanting to be the one who screws over himself and his partners, does everything in his power to get back that file from Doyle, which includes bankrupting him. He doesn't want to hurt him, but if he doesn't get that file to the courthouse by the end of the day, he's probably going to jail for a long time. However, Doyle, acting irrationally because he's scared of losing his kids, is unwilling to cooperate, and things quickly escalate, leaving both men wounded and questioning themselves.
What makes this film work so well is that while the premise may not be probable, it is entirely plausible. We get the feeling that these are real people, at first struggling to save their own hides, but then later struggling to figure out what went so wrong in the first place, and how to go back and fix it.
I found myself wondering what I would do if put in the same situation, and I really hope that I would be a saint about it, but the truth is that I really don't know. In movies, everybody likes to see good guys defeating bad guys, but the real world doesn't work like that; it's just a bunch of flawed humans trying to figure out the point of it all and trying to become the good guy. Changing Lanes knows this, and that's why it gets my approval.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Story, Performances,
With the advent of the internet, all things electronic or digital, and fast food, our world has become altogether too small, and everything moves entirely too fast. With so much happening all the time, everywhere, and with so many different ways to go, people have become preoccupied, which can be dangerous if the momentum propelling an individual happens to come to cross purposes with that same kind of momentum driving another, and the two converge. And it happens. "Things" happen; and when they do, the important thing is that all parties involved react responsibly and focus their individual attention on the matter at hand. If either side fails in this regard, it can mean big trouble. it means you suddenly have a situation; and it's just such a situation that is explored by director Roger Michell in "Changing Lanes," a tension filled drama starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson.
Gavin Banek (Affleck) is a successful lawyer, a partner in the firm and married to Cynthia (Amanda Peet), the daughter of his boss, Stephen Delano (Sydney Pollack). He's currently handling a probate case worth millions to the firm; he's due in court, where he simply has to present a document that will, for all intents and purposes, wrap up the proceedings. But fate is waiting in the wings. In another part of town, Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson) is also about to wrap up a deal-- a loan for a house that will keep his estranged wife, Valerie (Kim Staunton), from moving with their two boys, Stephen (Akil Walker) and Danny (Cole Hawkins), to Portland, Oregon, or as Doyle sees it, half way across the world.
When Gavin and Doyle get into their respective cars to head to court, they are strangers to one another; they are about to meet, however, when heavy traffic on the expressway and their own preoccupied mental states precipitate a collision-- a minor car accident that ultimately effects a much bigger wreck in both their lives. In his rush to meet his appointed court time, Gavin leaves the scene of the accident and, more importantly, leaves Doyle-- who also has an appointment in court (his child custody hearing, no less)-- stranded, and out of time. Ironically, the document Gavin must file in court is inadvertently in the confusion of the accident left behind on the expressway, and is now in Doyle's hands. And so the conundrum; loss of the document may mean jail time to Gavin. To Doyle, the loss of twenty minutes may mean losing his children. The question now is, how will these two men solve their dilemma? One has what the other needs, but how do you give "time" back to someone?
This film, nicely fashioned by screenwriters Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin, and extremely well crafted and delivered by director Michell, is at it's core a character study that examines the effects of desperation and the emotional responses elicited thereof. It explores how anger and frustration can in the heat of the moment negatively affect even an individual who under normal circumstances is predisposed to abiding by his own conscience; how even the most rational among us has the capacity for irrational behavior if provoked by unmitigated circumstances. At one point in the film, one of the characters observes that it's like two guys have been dropped into a paper bag together and shaken up, just to see what happens; and that about sums it up. And Michell does an excellent job of keeping the story on track, setting a good pace and maintaining the tension that keeps the audience involved. It's straightforward storytelling that is well presented and effective.
As Gavin, Affleck gives a solid performance, developing his character quite nicely as the story unfolds. When the film begins, Gavin is in a comfort zone, a place that allows him the tunnel vision necessary to do what he does with a clear conscience. In a way, he's naive; a guy who's been led down the path and made to believe that all is well in the land of the free. By the end of the film, we see a different Gavin-- or at least an "awakened" Gavin; the same man, perhaps, but with an entirely different perspective on life. And Affleck's portrayal makes it convincing, and brings Gavin to life in a very real way. A good job by a fine young actor with the ability to tap into that emotional depth that makes his character believable.
Samuel L. Jackson hits his stride, as well, as Doyle, a character whose outward demeanor masks the complexities lying beneath the surface, but which Jackson brings incisively to light. Doyle is your average guy, an insurance salesman, but a man plagued by the demons of addiction; he's a man addicted to chaos, evidenced by the failed relationships in his life and his inability to cope with the situation engendered by his encounter with Gavin. Jackson creates a character with whom you can empathize, even as he makes you aware of the rage within him that could explode at any minute. Doyle understands only too well the dire, probable consequences of being unable to quell his anger, and through his portrayal, Jackson makes the audience aware of it, as well; and it's a pivotal point in the story, which he successfully conveys. And it's that unstable element of Doyle's personality that makes this more than just a story about right or wrong, or who's going to win; it means anything can happen, and it keeps you wondering right up to the end what that something is going to be.
The supporting cast includes William Hurt (The Sponsor), Toni Collette (Michelle), Richard Jenkins (Walter), Tina Sloan (Mrs. Delano), Ileen Getz (Ellen), Sam Rovin (Paralegal) and Jennifer Dundas (Mina). A morality tale that, be advised, does not take too kindly to lawyers, "Changing Lanes" is an engrossing film that delivers much than what is promised, even, by the trailers; a worthwhile cinematic experience.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent movie with an excellent plot,
This movie has got to be one of my favorite movies by far because it's different. It's unique, it's just different from other movies and should be put in a different gnere for that reason even though it's a drama movie. Ben Affleck plays an attorney while Samuel L. Jackson (one of the best actors!!!) plays a car salesman. When there is a car accident between the two, the attorney leaves the scene because he has to be in court. But the car salesman also needed to be in court so that he can get joint custody of his children. But, his car doesn't work now, and he loses custody of his children. In the meantime, the attorney is missing important paperwork which he accidentally left at the accident and the salesman now posseses and refuses to give back. The two then engage in a "war". But, the protagonist clearly is the salesman as you feel terribly for him after what the attorney does to him. The movie is sad and tragic with an amazing performance by Jackson and I shall always remember it for it's unique plot and amazing delivery. Highly reccomended.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The hard choices that have to be made every day,
This review is from: Changing Lanes [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson, this is the story of how a seemingly small fender-bender incident changed the lives of two men forever. Affleck is cast as Gavin Banek, a young Wall Street lawyer married to the boss's daughter, who is on his way to court to file some papers that were obtained unethically. He doesn't have the document with him, however, and realizes he lost it during his encounter with Jackson on the expressway. Jackson, cast as Doyle Gibson, is a recovering alcoholic, who is also on his way to court. He's in the process of obtaining a mortgage on a modest house and is trying to keep his wife from moving across the country with his two young sons. When he is 20 minutes late for the custody hearing, he loses his case. Both men are now hurtled into a series of confrontations with the kind ofescalating intensity that kept my eyes glued to the screen as the tension increased.
The screenplay, by Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin, was excellent, and kept the audience not only wondering what would happen next, but also gradually understanding the character of each man, and how this affected their next moves. The plot twisted and turned as the men became more and more real, with the human frailties that hurtled the action along, showing how the way that each had been living his life contributed to what would happen next. Some deeply moral and ethical questions were raised with no easy answers. And in, at the end, as each man had to deal with his own personal demons, the conclusion was resolved on a positive note, leaving everyone wiser.
Roger Michell, the director, was able to get outstanding performances out of all of the supporting cast members, as well as the stars - most notably Toni Collette as a colleague and sometime mistress of Affleck, Amanda Peet as his wife, Sidney Pollack as the head of the law firm, and Kim Staunton as Jackson's wife. The New York setting was also wonderful and I'm glad that a decision was made not to edit out the World Trade Towers. It was a real and important part of New York, and I personally enjoyed seeing them there, a visual reminder of how quickly things can change, which fit in perfectly with the story.
I highly recommend this film, not just for the action, but also for the uncompromising view of how a person's character determines the outcome of situations and the hard choices that have to be made every day. See it!
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The film packs a real whallop.,
"Changing Lanes" is everything that its trailer is not, and that's a good thing. Movie previews for this refreshingly different thriller tout it as a fast-paced revenge machine, but in actuality, it moves at a much slower speed, developing its story and characters in a manner that brings us into their lives rather than placing us on the sidelines. The ending is a bit meak, but the suspense is non-stop, the acting superb, and the overall effect a satisfying one.
The beginning keeps details at bay, introducing fragments of the puzzle that will later come together. Ben Affleck plays Gavin Banek, a successful young attorney who has been sent by his firm to deliver important files concerning A) a charitable institution, and B) a very disgruntled granddaughter of its now-deceased founder. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we meet Samuel L. Jackson's middle-class father, Doyle Gibson, who is in the process of taking out a loan for a home in the hopes that his ex-wife will accept the action as a peace offering instead of taking their two children to Oregon.
The two men are both on their way to the courthouse. They have an accident after Banek attempts to change lanes, causing Gibson to careen into a freeway divider. Gibson wants to exchange insurance information ("I wanna do things the right way"); Banek, in a frenzied rush, gives him a blank check and speeds off, unaware that in his search for his checkbook, an important file landed on the street. Gibson retrieves the file, thumbs a ride to the courthouse, too late to make his statement in the custody case; Banek, who discovers his file is missing, is given an end-of-the-day deadline to come up with the document.
This all occurs within the first twenty minutes of the film, but not to worry: there's more to it than what we've seen, or what we think will happen. Much of what goes on centers around the important document, that which delegates the power to make decisions for the institution to the law firm. Banek lies to his two partners, telling them the case was ruled in their favor to tide them over while he attempts to get the file back from Gibson.
This is where the good gets even better, as the two men engage in a battle of wills and wits. It's like a game, really, an ongoing silent war in which a double-cross is payed back within the hour. Banek enlists the help of a hacker known for his ability to "help out with things that need helping out." He infiltrates Gibson's bank accounts, bankrupting him of his precious loan ("I need this loan for my life," Gibson later pleads with the teller), setting in motion a chain reaction of events that lead to an uncertain destination.
I must say, the film packs a real whallop in its first and second acts. The somewhat slow pacing is in its favor, allowing us to understand the characters while at the same time putting real effort into the explanations of various plot twists and new developments. There is an underlying web of deception underneath the action that centers around the document, the law firm, and the institution, that which I will not reveal. This subplot turns out to be the basis for the thrills, and it is smart and cooly calculated without insulting one's intelligence.
Also backing the film is its terrific cast, featuring two leads who play off one other so well, they could carry the movie by themselves. Jackson is a man of many virtues, and he displays a versatility here that is mesmerizing and intense. We feel for this man as a father, and as a person, and can come to understand his reasoning. Affleck has found a role befitting of his acting ability; there is a diversity of emotions to Banek's character, much of which revolves around being held at the whim of a man he hardly knows, and Affleck portrays this exquisitely.
The film worked for me right up until the ending, which is well-intentioned, but doesn't quite live up to the goals the material sets for itself. But to think about it further is to realize that there is really no other way for "Changing Lanes" to end without descending into the ludicrousness that plagues most thrillers; the ending we are supplied with is safe while not being totally satisfactory. Up until this point, there are thrills, surprises, and acting gusto aplenty, making the experience an enjoyable and involving one.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just above average,
Most movies have good guys and bad guys, or at the very least, protagonists and antagonists. You watch the film and you understand who to root for. This movie does not fit into that category. The characters alternate between being heroes and villains and you're never quite certain who to sympathize with; done properly, this can be compelling, but here, it is a mixed success at best.
The two principal characters are as similar as they are different. Affleck plays a lawyer who has pawned his conscience for a beautiful wife and a nice car; Jackson is an insurance salesman whose alcoholism masks his true problem of a vicious temper. Both are flawed characters and not very likeable, so it is hard to care about either of them. In addition, if either of the characters practiced anything approached true civility, they could have defused the situation (and of course ended the movie).
Affleck's character alternates between minor evil and minor good, while Jackson is more extreme on both ends. It is a creative device, but it only partially works, and if there was enough to have kept me watching, there wasn't enough to really make me care.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unexpectedly AWESOME and INSIGHTFUL Thriller!,
... I just returned home from what I thought was going to be wasted time seeing yet another Hollywood cinematic disappointment...I am happy to report that I was dead wrong. SEE THIS MOVIE! It rocked my world... took me to places I never expected to be... especially not tonight... made me consider things I never considered before...about life in general...the impact that relationships as major as a husband and wife or as minor as a chance highway accident encounter with a stranger can have on a life... about how every decision each of us makes in our lifetime is a another building block of our moral character. I am not a writer...no words I can write can do this movie justice....all performances, both and lead and minor roles, were strong and impactful. My head is swimming with insight into the human condition and that is soooooooo much more than I bargained for ... So Do yourself a favor and check this one out...it is well worth every cent and then some. Enjoy.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Changing Lanes [Blu-ray] by Roger Michell (Blu-ray - 2009)
Used & New from: $11.97