The key difference between Changing Lanes and other 'revenge' films is the antagonists are very real people and could be almost anyone who reaches their own breaking points.
Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) and Doyle Gipson (the ever reliable Samuel L Jackson - the King Of Cool - expect this time he's just an ordinary guy) get into a minor car accident one morning. Neither man is in fault as it one of those 'could have happened to anyone' accidents. The two men have one thing in common though - they are both in a hurry and on their way to court.
Doyle needs to show that his house loan approval has been agreed so that his wife will stay in New York and not move to Boston with their two sons. Banek has to file a signed form proving that an elderly millionaire relinquished control of his foundation to Banek's law firm.
Immediately after the accident, both me are naturally polite and concerned about the others safety. Unfortunately Baneks, who sees his wealthy status to mean that money can buy him out of everything, doesn't want to waste time with exchanging insurance details. Instead he just hands over a blank cheque. Doyle a recovering alcoholic, however, wants to and needs to do things in the proper way and tries to do the right thing by insisting that they exchange insurance details. Banek leaves Doyle on the slip road with a flat tire and shouts "Better luck next time" as he speeds off.
Unnoticed by Banek, as he was taking out his chequebook from his briefcase earlier, his valuable file with the signature fell out and is later picked up by Doyle. Unfortunately for Doyle, the abandonment with the flat tire resulted him in being late for his court case and in his absence, the judge awarded his wife sole custody of their children and is not interested in excuses.
The flip side for Banek, is that he arrives in court but without the file and is given till the end of the day to file it with the court. Banek realises what has happened and finds Doyle, asking to have his file back. Doyle, understandably angered refuses unless Banek can give him back the 20 minutes he lost resulting in his lateness.
Thus begins a daylong battle between the two men where each refuses to back down from the other.
One of the best aspects of the film is that there is no weaker one out of Doyle and Banek. For example when Banek has 'an associate', turn off Doyles credit rating so his home loan falls through, Doyle retaliates. Both men stooping to lower and lower levels until finally their consciences catch up with them.
Another very good aspect is that although Doyle is the ordinary man and Banek is a hotshot lawyer, you feel sympathy for both. Doyle is a recovering alcoholic and Banek isn't really ethically happy with what he is doing for his firm, his wife and his morals.
Performances are very good, Ben Affleck manages to keep the smug grins to a minimum and Samuel L Jackson is solid as ever. He has a few 'angry' scenes with a great one as he takes on two white guys for insulting Tiger Woods - which is made better because his character is very mild mannered at the start. There are appearances by William Hurt as Doyle's alcohol counsellor, Amanda Peet as Baneks cold hearted wife and Sydney Pollack as her father and Banek's boss. All are good but surprisingly small appearances.
The ending is a bit too light for such a taut film and especially seeing that the depth it explores. Not to say that is destroys the film, but it does take the edge of things, but don't let that detract you.
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