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Angel Eyes

Starring Jennifer Lopez and Jim Caviezel
Screenplay by Gerald DiPego
Directed by Luis Mandoki

IN SHORT: A chick flick for the arthouse doomed to a wide release. [Rated R for language, violence and a scene of sexuality. 107 minutes]

Gee, you would think that, in a summer filled with effects laden action spectacles, someone would release a serious movie for the grownups who have outgrown that kidlet friendly stuff. Actually the movie studios do. It's called counterprogramming and usually features actors who have already established their creds. Jennifer Lopez, as we complimented her in her last outing, is working hard to add those credits to her already platinum singing star success. She's working very hard in Angel Eyes, a tedious, you see it all coming an hour before romance with a bit of mystery and some personal family problems thrown in for color. If the film had been held until September and released on the smaller, arthouse circuit, there would have been more wiggle room allowed for assessing the work. But it's summertime and Lopez is too big a star elsewhere to allow for that growing space . . . Unless someone figured that she's already done that growing. Angel Eyes, simply, is a loser. We don't put too much blame on Lopez, although if all you wanted was to look at her face for close to two hours, you could rent a video and hit the pause button on your VCR.

Sharon Pogue (Lopez) is a street cop in Chicago. She's the only femme on a shift of men and she can hold her own verbally against the best of them. When the shift is done, she goes home to an empty apartment. No partner. No pets. No life. She's got a big family, though she's been estranged for the decade since she reported her father (Victor Argo) to the police for beating on her mother (Sonia Braga). With her parents' thirtieth anniversary coming up, Sharon is unsure as to whether she is really welcome at the party she's been invited to.

When we first meet Officer Pogue, it is from the POV of a traffic accident victim. One small car. One big truck. Lots of blood and bodies. Pogue is doing her damnedest to keep (us) focused and attentive and alive. It is, as she will point out to one of her infrequent dates a year later, what she wishes people would remember about cops. They help as much, if not more, as they shoot guns at the bad guys.

And that year later she meets "Catch," (Jim Caviezel) a handsome man who does her a good turn. We, the audience, have met catch before thanks to the great science of film editing. He's a do-gooder, who seems to walk the streets doing the nice thing for folk who leave their car lights on or their keys in their doors. He brings groceries to an older woman (Shirley Knight) in a wheelchair every week. A nice guy who lives in a bare apartment with a mattress on the floor and no appliances. Problem is, thanks again to the great science of film editing, we already know what the relationship between Catch and Pogue is. It will take Pogue an hour to discover the facts and solve the mystery of this man's life. It's hell on the audience getting there.

Once we get there, gosh, there's nothing that we haven't really figured out. Character studies like this, and that is all Angel Eyes really is, are fit for the smaller arthouses. Unlike life, big screen offerings should be more interesting.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Angel Eyes, he would have paid . . .


Rent, even if you are a Lopez fan. She's not ready to carry the weight of this kind of character study (we've left out most of the family problems 'cuz you should be unaware of at least something...) and the editing in the first scenes destroys any possible audience involvement in the mystery by tipping its hand too soon. Left out, we would have initially believed that Catch was a stalker. Yes, that's been done before, but it would had misdirected those of us (which seems to be 95% of y'all) who try to figure things out early.

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