Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roger Michell|
|Produced by||Scott Rudin|
|Screenplay by||Chap Taylor|
|Story by||Chap Taylor|
|Music by||David Arnold|
|Edited by||Christopher Tellefsen|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$94.9 million|
Changing Lanes is a 2002 American drama thriller film directed by Roger Michell and starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. The film follows a successful, young Wall Street lawyer (Affleck) who accidentally crashes his car into a vehicle driven by a middle-aged, recovering alcoholic insurance salesman (Jackson). After the lawyer leaves the scene of the accident, the two men try to get back at each other, engaging in a variety of immoral and illegal actions that end up having a major impact on each man's life.
The film was released on April 12, 2002 in North America by Paramount Pictures. The film was favourably reviewed by critics and it was a box office success, earning almost $95 million against a $45 million budget. Writers Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin were nominated for the WAFCA Award for Best Original Screenplay for their work.
In New York City, a middle-aged black insurance salesman named Doyle Gipson is a recovering alcoholic who is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to stay sober. On the same morning that Gipson drives to a hearing to try to regain custody of his children, a successful, white, young Wall Street attorney, Gavin Banek, is distracted while driving and collides his new Mercedes CLK320 with Gipson's 1988 Toyota Corolla. Banek was in a rush to get to court to file a power of appointment document, which will prove a dead man signed his foundation over to Banek's law firm. Gipson was also in a rush to get to a hearing to argue for joint custody of his sons with his estranged wife. Banek tries to brush Gipson off with a blank check, rather than exchanging insurance information, thereby disobeying the law. Gipson refuses to accept the check and voices his desire to "do this right", but Banek, whose car is still drivable, insists upon leaving immediately. He leaves Gipson stranded, telling him, "better luck next time". After arriving to the court late, Gipson learns that the judge ruled against him in his absence, giving sole custody of the boys to Gipson's wife and allowing her to proceed with a plan to move to Oregon, never knowing that Gipson was about to buy a house locally and give it to his wife and children as part of his effort to make joint custody workable for everyone.
When Banek gets to court, he realizes that he dropped the crucial power of appointment file at the scene of the accident, and the judge gives him until the end of the day to retrieve it. Gipson, who scooped up the file, is torn, and initially refuses to return the file. Banek, who is desperate to get his papers back, goes to a "fixer", a shady computer hacker, and gets him to switch off Gipson's credit, destroying Gipson's chance for a home loan to keep his family together. Gipson is distraught when he finds out his credit has been ruined and he comes close to drinking again. Determined to get back at Banek, Gipson removes several bolts from one of Banek's wheels, and Banek suffers some minor injuries after his car crashes on the highway. Enraged, Banek goes to the elementary school of Gipson's children and tells school officials that Gipson plans to kidnap the boys, so Gipson is arrested and jailed. His enraged wife declares her intention to move forward with taking their sons to Oregon and says that Gipson will never see them again.
Both men, shaken by the consequences of their actions, start to reconsider their desire for vengeance and try to find a way out. Although it appears unlikely that either man will achieve what he had hoped, both resolve to let go and do what is right, and the two men apologize to each other. Gipson returns the file containing the power of attorney, which Banek has since learned was obtained illegally, and he uses it to blackmail his boss to conduct business honestly and get approval to represent Gipson pro bono to resolve his legal troubles. Banek also visits Gipson's wife, asking her to "give me five minutes." The next day, Gipson is walking and notices his wife and sons standing across the street, smiling at him.
The film received favorable reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 77% based on reviews from 151 critics, with an average score of 7/10.Metacritic gave it an average score of 69/100 from the 36 reviews it collected.