Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) is a big “hot-shot” lawyer who works for his father-in-law (Sidney Pollack). He is on his way to court to defend the company’s control of a multi-million dollar trust fund.
At the same time Doyle Gipson (Samuel L Jackson), an insurance salesman, is on his way to court as his estranged wife is seeking sole custody of their two young boys.
While driving to court Banek’s car collides with Gipson’s. Banek is late for his important court case and just wants to get going while Gipson tries to exchange insurance details. In the end Banek, gives Gipson a blank cheque to get his car fixed and drives off leaving Gipson stranded. Unknown to both of them the consequence of their little accident is going to go far beyond a little panel beating and a paint job…
The trailers had me thinking I was going to see an action-thriller but it’s more character study than action. The movie explores the actions and reactions of the characters and the desperation they feel as they find their lives spiralling out of control. The story is well told and moves along at a nice pace under the direction of Roger Michell who also directed “Notting Hill”. While the movie didn’t have the “fireworks” I was expecting it is still an interesting film that keeps you wondering which way the characters will jump next. The ending was a little unlikely and it wrapped things up just a little to tidily!
The main theme of the movie is the idea of “doing the right thing” and the unexpected consequences of rash actions and behaviour. When Gipson wanted to exchange insurance details after the accident he says “ I want to do this right” but Banek drives off. We’ve all wanted to turn back the clock to change something and when Gipson is twenty minutes late for his court case he asks Banek, “can you give me back my time? Can you give me back my twenty minutes!
Samuel L. Jackson plays a very different character in this movie compared to the dangerous characters in Shaft, Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction. He does a convincing job as Gipson the recovering alcoholic attempting to get his family back together.
Ben Affeck is good as the arrogant “big shot” lawyer who struggles with his principles and there is strong support from Sidney Pollack as the obnoxious father-in-law, Toni Collette as Banek’s colleague and mistress, and Kim Staunton as Gipson’s estranged wife.
Lasting thought: All the money in the world couldn’t buy Gipson’s twenty minutes back!