Angel Eyes

Movie Information

Score:

Genre: Drama
Director: Luis Mandoki
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel, Sonia Braga, Terrence Howard, Shirley Knight
Rated: R

“The deeper you look, the more you will find,” claims the advertising for Angel Eyes, but a more honest assessment would be, “The deeper you look, the more you will find wrong with this movie.” Alright, it’s not a complete wash-out, but Angel Eyes is one of the more indifferent movies to come along in a while. You can’t call it an actively bad film, but — apart from the performances — there’s not much good to say about it either. It’s an almost classic case of a movie that’s fairly well-written in terms of characters and dialogue, but is so by-the-numbers in its storyline that it threatens to vanish into nothingness in mid-frame. Marketed as a kind of quasi-supernatural thriller, the actual film is neither supernatural nor a thriller. Instead, it’s a vaguely psychological love story about two dysfunctional people, with the “mystical” hook being the fact that they’ve “met” once before under extreme circumstances — which the movie would like to believe will come as a shocking revelation to the viewer. But it takes more than an hour of the film’s 104 minutes for the characters to realize what the audience suspected from the onset — and knew for a fact early on. Whatever can be said about the device, it hardly increases dramatic tension, let alone offers the viewer much in the way of surprises. The worst — or at least most dumbfounding — thing is that the problem is largely a matter of structure. If the film didn’t insist on having a prologue that very deliberately sets up that aspect of the plot, it might have worked. Certainly, it would have worked better, despite the existence of other scripting problems. (Why does the script build up the idea that the wheelchair-bound Eleanora Davis (Shirley Knight, As Good as It Gets) was incapacitated by the car accident that’s central to the film — via references to her “living off an insurance settlement” — when she wasn’t?) The storyline is simplistic and even cliched. Sharon Pogue (Jennifer Lopez, The Wedding Planner) is a tough Chicago cop with an inability to connect with other human beings — especially romantically — owing in large part to her wife-beater father. “Catch” (Jim Caviezel, Pay It Forward) is a mysterious character with no apparent past and no visible means of support, who needs to learn how to shave (and possibly bathe). He wanders the streets of Chicago, performing random acts of kindness. For reasons neither of them appear to understand, he is fixated on Sharon and happens to be on the scene to save her life when a thug is about to kill her. Of course, they fall in love and proceed to peel away each other’s secrets, which would be fine if the movie had a better grasp on what it wanted to be and had left any of these secrets for the audience to discover at the same time as the characters. Even at that, Angel Eyes has a groan-inducing tendency to head straight for the cliche whenever it can find one — including the generic, pop-song-infused romantic outing that ends up in one of those improbable outdoor trysts with “artfully posed” arms and legs obscuring more intimate anatomical features from the viewer. Considering the fact that director Luis Mandoki concludes a film that centers on the effects of a fatal car crash with his leads driving off together without bothering to fasten their seat belts, nothing slipshod or facile should perhaps be much of a surprise. The movie remains watchable on the solid performances of its undeniably attractive leads and the fact that the script manages to make them believable enough that we can care about them. Whether that’s reason enough to see Angel Eyes is another matter.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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