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ANGEL EYES

SYNOPSIS:
Sexy but tough Chicago Police officer Sharon Pogue (Jennifer Lopez) nearly becomes the victim of a shooting one night when the mysterious trench-coated Catch (Jim Caviezel), disarms the would-be assassin and saves Sharon's life. Is this a concerned citizen in the right place at the right time, or something more fateful? Though Catch won't divulge much about himself, a slow, awkward courtship ensues, and as the two glide into love, they are forced to deal not only with the secrets of their past, but the fact they had met once before.

Angel Eyes: a great title, even if its significance for the film remains unclear. An early scene ends with a slow fade where the eyes of Jennifer Lopez are the last parts of the image to vanish, hanging in white space like the Cheshire Cat's grin. It's an eerie effect and for a while this seems like a promising movie despite the implausibility of the two main characters: a tough-yet-feminine policewoman who banters like one of the boys, and a muscular do-gooder with an ankle-length trenchcoat and the conversation skills of an autistic six-year-old. The first half-hour proceeds as though under the sign of Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense: we skip back and forth between these unlikely figures, and each seems like one of the walking dead. Or rather everything around them is busily blurred and unreal, while the leads stand out as detached from the hubbub, still points in a turning world. A decent though hardly original stylist, director Luis Mandoki likes to circle his solitary characters with the camera, or overlay their images with reflections in windscreens; in shadowy alleys, all-too-vivid memories rise up to meet them like the head-lights of a truck. We know these two are destined to come together, but we don't know how or why. Even after they meet the mystery remains, and the film compels for as long as it retains its ambiguity: is it a cop thriller, a horror film, or just a romantic melodrama in Gothic dress? It would be unfair to reveal the answer, so I'll just say that the most intriguing plot possibilities aren't followed up. The thrill of the opening movement gradually ebbs away; much of what remains is unbearably slow and predictable. Still, this is not a total loss, since Lopez and Cavaziel manage to make their impossible characters appealing and often funny (especially in the teasing scenes where they try to figure each other out).
Jake Wilson

Pop music-turned-movie icon Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) returns to the big screen with Angel Eyes, and while it's good she's back - she's a startlet and a fine actress in the right hands - one wonders why she chooses such lightweight, heavyhanded stuff like this. She seems to have "romantic lead" stamped on her actor's card, and after starring in the recent tear-jerker The Wedding Planner, I hope this isn't a career path for her. She smouldered as an FBI agent seduced by George Clooney in Out of Sight (thanks to Steven Soderbergh) and sizzled next to Sean Penn in U-Turn (thanks to Oliver Stone). But with lightweight co-stars and featherweight directors, Lopez falls dead flat. She's great to look at, but we already know that. So luminous here, in fact, that it's a wonder why half the male cops on the Chicago Police force aren't chasing her - and some of the female cops for that matter. Angel Eyes (a title thatís nothing to do with the plot) is a winding road to romantic harmony fraught with ill-shaped characters and a very poor structure. Flashbacks come at odd times, and the dealing with the past sub-plot doesn't gel with the brewing romance. In fact, that heavy subplot often overrides the romance, making the film more depressing than entertaining. Then there's Jim Caviezel, who throws his last two characters (kind hearted bum in Pay It Forward and out-of-time cop in Frequency) into the blender to come up with this unkempt, unshaven zombie. It's uncharacteristic a gal like Lopez's character would go for him and all his personal baggage, but the film persists with her curious attraction for him. All the emotion seems to be built, in a way, not on the writing, the backstory, or the (non-existent) chemistry between the leads, but on the beauty of their faces and the costumes they wear. A pity to waste such talents, wouldn't you say?
Shannon J. Harvey

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

ANGEL EYES (MA)
(US)

CAST: Jennifer Lopez, James Caviezel, Terrence Dashon Howard, Sonia Braga

DIRECTOR: Luis Mandoki

PRODUCER: Mark Canton, Elie Samaha

SCRIPT: Gerald Di Pego

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Piotr Sobocinski

EDITOR: Jerry Greenberg

MUSIC: Marco Beltrami

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dean Tavoularis

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 6, 2001







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