Jane Doe

cast: Teri Hatcher, Rob Lowe, Christina Cox, Trevor Blumas, and Mark Caven

writer and director: Kevin Elders

87 minutes (12) 2001
widescreen ratio 16:9
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Barbara Davies

This made-for-TV action/ chase movie opens in the thick of things, with Jane Doe (Teri Hatcher) receiving a newspaper-wrapped bloody finger, supposedly from her kidnapped son. But driving around frantically trying to get him back, doing whatever kidnapper Lucky (an overacting Alex Karzis) orders, only ends with Jane herself framed as prime suspect for the murder of the Cy-Kor chairman.

It’s no accident that the kidnappers (whose excruciating accents are meant to be English, I presume) have targeted Jane. Until recently she worked for Cy-Kor too, administering passwords for the computer system. Finding a serious breach in security, she sent a concerned memo to the chairman, and wouldn’t you know it, he was just about to investigate, when he was killed. Now an on-the-run Jane, her ungrateful, 15-year-old son in tow, must discover what’s really going on and prove her innocence.

It’s a case of wheels within wheels as Jane learns the hard way that the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) is amongst those trying to kill her. Far from trying to stop Cy-Kor’s dastardly CEO from leaking company secrets to a foreign power, DIA agents have been facilitating it. What’s more, Jane’s sulky son Michael (Trevor Blumas) and enigmatic ex-husband David (Rob Lowe in a rare action role that doesn’t really convince) are involved. There are traitors everywhere, as the Doe family soon learn; to their cost. Fortunately, markswoman Peter (Christina Cox, Blood Ties) switches sides at a crucial moment. And in another stroke of luck that strains credulity, Jane’s colleague Niles, a disgruntled research scientist in Cy-Kor’s special projects division, just happens to have scheduled a test of his handy new weapon (codenamed Elvis) tomorrow…

It’s a shame that, presumably because his protagonist is female, director Kevin Elders plays up the family angle so much that the film becomes as much about reconciling the members of the dysfunctional Doe family to one another as about industrial espionage. Saddling Hatcher (Tomorrow Never Dies) with Lowe (Austin Powers: Goldmember) and Blumas (Ice Princess), the latter so petulant I kept hoping he’d come to a sticky end, doesn’t really add much. But if her co-stars are rather lacklustre and her supporting cast sometimes OTT, the rarely off-screen Hatcher gives it her best shot, making effective use of action skills first honed on Lois & Clark.

In short, Jane Doe (aka: Runaway Jane) is an undemanding piece of hokum. Fortunately, the presence of the photogenic Hatcher, an entertaining though preposterous plot, and non-stop action make caring about the characters optional.