Angel Eyes (2001) / Drama-Romance

MPAA Rated: R for language, violence, and a scene of sexuality
Running Time: 102 min.

Cast: Jennifer Lopez, James Caviezel, Sonia Braga, Terrence Dashon Howard, Jeremy Sisto, Monet Mazur 
Director: Luis Mandoki
Screenplay: Gerald Di Pego
Review published May 28, 2001

It's ironic that the reason many people may be drawn to see this movie will also be the biggest reason they may be disappointed.  Jennifer Lopez (The Wedding Planner, The Cell) can be fun to watch, especially in gutsy but funny roles like that in Out of Sight.  What she doesn't seem to evoke very well, at least as of yet, is a depth of emotion when necessary, and that quality sure would have helped here.  Not that this kind of material could have ever been great, but certainly it would have at least avoided coming off as limper than Bob Dole frowning into an empty bottle of Viagra.

Lopez plays Sharon Pogue, a Chicago police officer, who is saved from almost certain death by a mysterious man named Catch (Caviezel, Pay It Forward).  The two become friends, and then more than that, but Catch refuses to let Sharon into his life, and his past is not something he cares to divulge.  Meanwhile, Sharon deals with a terrible past of her own, as her parents are retaking their marriage vows, which irks her to no end, since the relationship has been one of abuse.

Luis Mandoki is known for his romantic films (Message in a Bottle, When a Man Loves a Woman, White Palace) and in each case, they are film which at first thought might seem intriguing, but are less than impressive when actually viewing.  Like Message in a Bottle, Angel Eyes is a bit overwrought, without much going for it in terms of thrills and frills.  We can easily piece together from the first scene that the two leads have met once before, and what is in his past that ails Catch to the point where he chooses to live a zombified life.  From a romance standpoint, Angel Eyes is a complete failure, with little in terms of chemistry between the two leads, exchanging expressions of love that ring hollow when considering how little they really know about one another.  

The film scores some points from the side stories involving Catch dealing with his past, and Lopez's confrontation with her formerly violent father.  During these scenes,  the script is a much more genuine, and the acting shines through with style, with Caviezel delivering a particularly brilliant performance during the scene where he finally confronts his suppressed anguish. 

Yet, the story always cuts back to the shallow waters of the romance, where not much goes on except pendulous emotions swinging between silly antics and melancholy angst.  An actress of lesser fame, and one more natural for the role, might have made this a notch better, but even so, a rewrite of the script would have still been essential for a true quality movie to emerge.  Angel Eyes goes through its motions, neither very good nor very bad, and when its finally over, we are left sitting in wonder at what all the fuss was all about.

Qwipster's rating:

2001 Vince Leo