Late for court, an attorney weaves in and out of traffic. In a different lane, a father whose right to see his children rests on get ting to court on time. A minor accident will turn these two strangers into beasts.
finds director Roger Michell (Notting Hill
) going American but not Hollywood, working from a script written by Michael Tolkin (The Player
) and newcomer Chip Taylor. The result is something like Falling Down
It all starts with a car collision in New York. An alcoholic insurance salesman Doyle Gipson (Samuel L Jackson), hurrying for a vital hearing at which he might lose access to his kids, is entangled with yuppie lawyer Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck), himself speeding to a court hearing at which he must present an important document to secure his firm's custodianship of a 100 million dollar foundation. Doyle wants to handle things by the book and spurns Gavin's offer of a blank cheque, which prompts the lawyer to drive off, leaving Doyle in the rain and doomed not to make the court in time, though he leaves behind the crucial document.
Over the course of the day, things escalate as Gavin tries to get the file back and an embittered Doyle refuses. In a game of deadly tit-for-tat, Gavin hires a hacker to wipe out Doyle's financial records, while Doyle resorts to sabotaging Gavin's car.
The script is carefully balanced: assuming our natural sympathy for the put-upon Jackson as opposed to the smooth Affleck, we are carefully shown that the picture is not that simple--Jackson wouldn't be in a custody hearing if this was the first time his life ran out of control, while the whole crisis forces Affleck (whose unethical bosses want him to forge the document) to reassess his fast-track life. It's fable-like rather than credible, but the suspense ratchets ever higher and there are some fine speeches well delivered by the stars. --Kim Newman