Producer: John MacCarthy   Director: Martin Wood   Screenplay: Mike Hurst and Chris Sivertson   Cast: Javicia Leslie, Pascale Hutton, Niall Matter, Vincent Gale, Carmen Moore, John Cassini, Kaaren de Zilva, Aaron Douglas and Alex Stines    Distributor: Paramount

Grade: D+

While watching “Double Life,” you might imagine that it’s intended as the pilot for a “Cagney & Lacey”-style TV series about a female detective duo.  If it were, and it was picked up (by TNT, for example), rest assured it wouldn’t last more than a single season.  This is a thrill-free would-be thriller that grows more and more preposterous until it collapses in a bonkers finale. Despite the title, it’s lifeless.

As the inane script opens, Mark (Niell Matter), an assistant district attorney in some unnamed city (the picture was shot in Vancouver) is killed while driving home late one night.  His loving wife Sharon (Pascale Hutton) is distraught, but comforted by Mark’s boss DA Sheldon Roberts (Aaron Douglas), Roberts’ wife Lisa (Kaaren de Silva) and Mark’s colleague and friend Larry (Vincent Gale).

But there’s an unfamiliar figure at graveside: an attractive, indeed sultry woman who introduces herself as Jo Creuzot (Javicia Leslie).  She explains that she saw Mark at the bar where she works on the night he died, and that he received a packet from a man that might have had something to do with a case he was set to prosecute against a powerful man whose mines had poisoned people, and who was accused of hiding the danger.  She believes that Mark might have been murdered for the evidence that package contained.

What Jo doesn’t tell Sharon is that she was Mark’s mistress—although, as she’ll explain when the truth later comes out, she didn’t know he was married.  Now, however, since the police investigation headed by Detective Traxler (Carmen Moore) seems to be going nowhere, the two women join forces to solve Mark’s murder themselves.  Their efforts lead to the discovery of another body and the appearance of notorious hit-man Louis Strand (John Cassini) who, along with his son, obligingly named Sonny (Alex Stines), stalks the intrepid pair. 

The main suspect is, of course, the mine owner who remains off-screen but must have hired the Strands to do his dirty work.  But the effusive support Roberts and his wife have showered on Sharon seems excessive, and Larry’s consolation appears to be a bit too personal for comfort.  And what of Traxler?  Is her apparent ineptitude accidental, or intended to mask the fact that she’s in bed with the baddies?  There’s also a McGuffin at the center of things, of course—something so spot-on-the-nose that one would think it would have embarrassed scripters Mike Hurst and Chris Sivertson to resort to it.

To reveal how it all turns out would be a spoiler if there were anything to spoil here.  Suffice it to say there are few innocents among the characters here.  Nor among the cast.  Leslie and Hutton are both fine, bringing more to the party than it deserves, but the supporting players are all weak, and Martin Wood’s direction is stolid.  On the technical, the contributions of cinematographer Pieter Stathis, production designer Lloyd Stone and Brad Rines are utterly unexceptional, while Hamish Thomson contributes a score nary a note of which will linger in the memory after the closing credits fade.

“Double Life” leaves you thinking that it was a half-hearted effort from the first moments of its conception.