Changing Lanes (2002)

R   |    |  Drama, Thriller


Changing Lanes (2002) Poster

The story of what happens one day in New York City, when a young lawyer and a businessman share a small automobile accident on F.D.R. Drive, and their mutual road rage escalates into a feud.


6.4/10
64,975

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  • Producer Scott Rudin and Sydney Pollack on the set
  • Director Roger Michell
  • Director Roger Michell
  • (Left to right) Ben Affleck as Gavin Banek and Samuel L. Jackson as Doyle Gipson
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Doyle Gipson
  • Sydney Pollack as Stephen Delano and Ben Affleck as Gavin Banek

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


9 April 2002 | sumitagarwal
8
| Changing Lanes: A turn for Hollywood? (8 stars)
When `Changing Lanes' first opens, the viewer is presented with a montage of jagged credits, trendy jerking photography cruising NYC streets, and electronic beats that are so cool they could be used for cryogenic freezing. It quickly seems apparent that this film is simply a star-vehicle for Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson; it seems apparent that this is a cold and impersonal genre-exercise for a successful comedy director, Roger Michell (`Notting Hill'), to branch out; it seems to be all these things until the end of this sequence when the camera glances out the window of a school bus out onto the New York City skyline, and there we see it: the World Trade Center. Unlike Sam Raimi's upcoming `Spider-Man', delayed after September 11th so that the WTC could be digitally removed, this is a film unafraid to date itself, and unafraid to look at human truth.

Affleck plays the role of the oddly named Gavin Banek (did they take the name ‘Ben Affleck', throw it in a blender, and add some new letters for good measure?), a high-power lawyer on the verge of becoming one of the partners at his law firm, alongside his father-in-law. Jackson is Doyle Gibson, a reforming alcoholic father of two clawing his way out of his hole and trying to save his marriage. On a critical day in both their lives, Doyle going to court to try winning joint-custody, and Gavin on his way to seal his career-making case, the two get into a minor accident on the FDR turnpike, causing Doyle to miss his hearing and Gavin to accidentally give Doyle a signed document that is critical to his case… and it all unravels from there.

The two tumble in a daylong haze of malice and self-destruction, sabotaging each other's lives. Whenever either decides to throw in the towel and do the ‘right' thing, it is too late and the other has already escalated it to the next level. His life quickly falling down around him, Gavin begins to examine it for the first time, taking a deep look into his wife, his law firm, his boss/father-in-law, and himself… ultimately questioning his motivation for trying to retrieve the document in the first place.

This is where the film really shines: many movies ask the question ‘what makes a man?' but `Changing Lanes' does it with honestly and authenticity. The screenplay, by Chap Taylor, asks if it is success, or if its providing for one's wife and kids, or if its true goodness, avoiding superficiality and delving into the motivations for each. In one telling monologue, Gavin's father-in-law, played with perfect tone by Sydney Pollack, says, `At the end of the day, I do more good than harm. What other standard have I got?' Unfortunately, the movie does not really ask the question of what makes a woman, even though both wives show real strength. The movie does not even seem to suggest that Gavin and Doyle's struggles could even be applied to women (obviously they could, had the movie explored that).

Jackson, always an excellent actor, is great as Gibson even if he has performed better before. Surprisingly, in this film Affleck's acting actually seems to surpass Jackson's in this amazing performance that is probably the best we have seen from Affleck so far.

All of the characters in the film, including minor-roles and extras, all exhibit a very human feel, and seeing real-feeling people on the screen has always been something rare and not to be taken for granted. The viewer comes to care about everyone in the picture: Gavin, Doyle, their wives, the guy at the bank, even the stranger at the bar.

New York City itself is alive in this movie: it breathes, coughs, and gasps with Salvatore Totino's shaky, unsaturated, claustrophobic photography. Totino really looks at people and the city in the face, and does not try to make them prettier or uglier than they are. David Arnold's original electronic score is a refreshing change from the very poor attempts at orchestral music that most movies are now filled with. Arnold's score very effectively sets the mood and reinforces the tempo of the movie.

`Changing Lanes' is a success for Roger Michell that shows us that a movie can have major stars, be entertaining, glossy, substantial, and pensive all-at-once.

`Changing Lanes' is rated R for a fender-bender, destruction of office equipment, unseen infidelity, a shot of the World Trade Center, and honest depiction of the human condition.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

A young Bradley Cooper was in a scene that was supposed to take place early in the movie, just after the first scene of the Ben Affleck character in the Metropolitan Museum. He played a young lawyer getting a job interview. This scene was deleted from the movie, but can be seen on the blu-ray, in the Deleted Scenes section.


Quotes

Doyle Gipson: Think I'll make this the boys' room.


Goofs

Contrary to popular belief, it is impossible for anyone to turn "on" or "off" anyone's credit, as is the case with Gavin hiring the third party to do it to Doyle. Even when the movie was made, banks and financial institutions were fully aware of hackers and identity theft, and there is no way that anyone, regardless of their computer knowledge or system, could go into someone's credit file and log a bankruptcy or cancel their credit cards, but only the federal government, and then only with a court order which usually takes two to three months.


Crazy Credits

Thanks to the staff and Militia Force members and veterans at the Marcy Avenue Armory, Brooklyn, New York.


Alternate Versions

There was an early review of the movie that contained a spoiler of the ending. The ending that was originally used involved Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson getting into a fist fight that leads onto the balcony. They talk about right and wrong and Affleck takes the file and tears it up and the movie fades to credits. This ending was most likely cut because test audiences did not like it. It will most likely appear on the DVD. Also a small clip shown in the TV ads shows Affleck and Jackson fighting on the balcony. This was part of the original ending which explains why it was cut.


Soundtracks

Text for "Veneration of the Cross"
Courtesy of International Commission on English in the Liturgy

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama | Thriller

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