Rated R - Running Time: 1:42 - Released 5/18/01

Angel Eyes, written by Gerald Di Pego and directed by Luis Mandoki, is one of those "big secret" films. You know, the kind where a character has some deep, dark secret, some long-past emotional scar that prevents him or her from opening up to anyone, including the audience, until the triumphant breakthrough scene where we all finally learn the reason why he or she is such an insufferable jerk. I have to admit I don't care much for "big secret" movies, and this is one of them. What's worse, this film boasts not one but two such characters (played by Jennifer Lopez and James Caviezel), and thanks to the pandering nature of Di Pego's script and Mandoki's direction, it takes them so long to reveal their psychological troubles that by the time they do, we have long since lost interest in whether they live of die, let alone whether they are able to finally make it in the sack.

Anyone who saw The Wedding Planner has seen Lopez's characterization for this movie. Her character, Sharon Pogue, is a beautiful, reclusive, single woman with a hard body and an attractive but seldom-seen smile, who would like to fall in love but can't let her guard down enough to do so. The only difference is, this time she's a Chicago cop instead of a wedding planner, and is at odds with her screwy family because of a history of abuse. Her romantic opposite, played by Caviezel, is simply known as "Catch" since the terrible accident which claimed the lives of his wife and child. If you've seen Pay It Forward, then you've seen his characterization: he walks around the city like the drug addict he played in that film, dressed in a long, dark coat and peering scarily at Sharon through coffee shop windows. I think it's called "stalking." But the reason he's following her is because she was the first responder to his accident over a year ago. She administered the first aid that saved his life, and he looked into her eyes...and recognized her from MTV. But she doesn't remember him. So we see them meet (he saves her from a gun-toting thug), they have a few dates, annoy each other (and us) with their secretiveness, and begin the long trek toward that inevitable revelation scene.

Lopez is not a bad actress, but it's hard to assess her talent based on second-rate films like this and Planner. Playing a character who is unwilling to come out of her shell is difficult to do without alienating the audience, and she doesn't seem to be able to pull it off very well. The same goes for Caveziel — his style is so subtle it's hard to see any kind of character behind Catch. He's just sort of a cryptic zombie, doing mildly strange things and speaking very little. If we don't get to know him, we can't get to like him, and we don't really get to know him until far too late. If Mandoki spent more time showing us what makes these people tick (like during the first hour when virtually nothing happens), on their histories and the nature of their crises, we might be more inclined to root for them as a couple. But he doesn't. So we aren't. **½

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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