Friday, December 4, 2015

Movie Review #348: "Secret in Their Eyes" (2015)

Movie"Secret in Their Eyes"
Director: Billy Ray
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
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When the daughter of an FBI agent named Jess (Julia Roberts) is raped and murder, her partner Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) takes it upon himself to investigate the crime. When it turns out the prime suspect is a terrorist informant, the district attorney lets him go free. A short time later, the suspect disappears. Disgusted with the DA's decision, Ray leaves the FBI and spends the next 13 years trying to find the culprit to get justice for Jess's daughter.

For the love of god, stop remaking movies already!!

"Secret in Their Eyes" is a remake of an Oscar winning foreign film entitled "Secreto de sus ojos" from Argentina. This America remake stars Julia Roberts, an Oscar winner, Nicole Kidman, an Oscar winner, Chiwetel Ejiofor, an Oscar nominee, and Dean Norris, who was on one of the finest television shows ever made, "Breaking Bad." Most movies only wish to have a cast this good... what went wrong?

For starters, this film is nearly 2 hours long, but it feels much more like 3. It is as poorly paced as we have ever seen. This film feels each minute like a 100-pound weight, and in an effort to be a slow-burning thriller, it lacks efficacy and simply comes off as sluggish. Beyond its slow pace, the movie is also incredibly boring. The timeline is of the story is split between 2002, when the murder and rape of Jess' daughter Caroline happened, and 2015, long after Ray, played by Ejiofor, had quit the FBI's counter-terrorism unit. Since they were partners, Ray was invested in Jess' daughter's case, finding out what happened to her, and who killed her. Unfortunately, the district attorney in 2002, Martin Morales, played briefly by Alfred Molina, cannot see why Ray wants to help out and insists he go back to working with his counter-terrorism unit, but may have ulterior motives in suggesting so. Right off the bat, we're watching a movie dealing with terrorism, murder, rape, stakeouts, wanted suspects, and shady authority figures. What should have been a deeply engaging thriller only made us yawn and check the time half a dozen times. There are long stretches of time without anything but talking, and even though Chiwetel Ejiofor could read the phone book and make it sound sexy, he'd still be reading the phone book. Here, the source material is nothing stellar at all. The dialogue ranges from heavy police phraseology to forgettable chatter, none of which is the least bit intriguing.

Speaking of Ejiofor, he's really the only good thing about "Secret in Their Eyes." His expressions, dear god. Even in a bad movie, he's good. He shows a lot of great emotion on his face, even during times when there are bad things going on on screen. Nicole Kidman is serviceable as Claire, juxtaposed as both the assistant district attorney in 2002, and the actual district attorney in 2015, but the shoehorned romance between Ray and Claire is not only unbelievable and out of place, but makes no sense considering Claire is engaged to be married. Their romance, or lack thereof, is one of the biggest distractions in the film. Julia Roberts, who doesn't act nearly as much as she used to, does a decent job as Jess and goes through the motions and emotions as both a grieving mother and a vengeful parent. Together, these three fine actors and actresses slog through a less than mediocre dramatic thriller full of both WTF moments and an idiotic ending that's supposed to be a twist but doesn't have the proper powerful writing to make it impactful. Are we seriously supposed to believe a district attorney would let the murderer and rapist of one of his local agent's family members go scott-free all in the name of preventing another 9/11? That seems like quite a leap, don't you think? And if this is true, we really need to move the hell out of California because that's absolutely nuts.

Even with the all-star cast mentioned above, the actors couldn't pull off a winning product or make heads or tails of the shoddy editing, the ineffective writing, and the lack of thrills in "Secret in Their Eyes."

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 3.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 41%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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