The inadequate and tedious "Angel Eyes" (IMDb listing) has all the makings of a great movie. A great television movie that is. The searing idea of the possibilities of emotional regeneration and hope for a brand new day is ruined in this lifeless feature film that wants sincerity, yet has no clue to how to execute it properly for the story at hand. The screenplay brought all the requisite tears to the material, it's just that the filmmakers don't have a clue how to jerk them.
"Angel Eyes" tells the story of Sharon Pogue (Jennifer Lopez), a burned out Chicago cop who deals with soul-flattening misogyny and violence every day. Frustrated in her attempts to make sense of her abusive family, Sharon is rescued one day from certain death by a mysterious and emotionally disturbed stranger named Catch (Jim Caviezel). Catch and Sharon soon fall into lust with and begin a tentative courtship. With all her instincts pushing her the opposite way, Sharon chooses to go deeper and attempts to discover Catch's hidden past and help him find his way back to reality. Catch, on the other hand, isn't sure if confronting his past will heal him, forcing him to reject Sharon's loving advances.
Whatever counterprogramming ambitions "Angel Eyes" might have, the film cannot escape its shallow TV movie feel. Like a department store mannequin, "Angel Eyes" just kind of sits there and assumes that it's serving a greater purpose. Though there is nothing wrong with attempting to mount a sincere adult drama that deals with weighty issues about family and loss, "Angel Eyes" contains nothing that wouldn't be greater servedor even find its intended audience betterby a Harry Hamlin/Melissa Gilbert, Hallmark TV movie of the week.
Jennifer Lopez and Jim Caviezel have it worse than anybody in "Angel Eyes." Stuck with inert direction and unwieldy dialog, the two leads are often hung out to dry due to sloppy filmmaking. Generating little chemistry as a couple, Lopez and Caviezel have trouble bouncing off each other the way great screen couplings do. Also lost to the four winds thanks to Luis Mandoki's ("Message in a Bottle") direction are the after-effects of a moment of intimacy between the characters. Simply stated, Catch and Sharon maketh the love early in the film, then never discuss it again. What? In a film that relies on the magical connection of two people who find each other in a world of emotional hurt, this tiny missing detail of their love after sex left me cold. I don't even think the characters do so much as kiss for the rest of the film! To understand Catch's story arc, we need to believe that Sharon loves him. However, we never see the two be affectionate more than just passingly.
Looking back on "Angel Eyes," the inconsistencies start to shine through quickly. If she's a dedicated cop, why isn't Sharon suspicious of a man who won't even give her his last name? That seems a little out of character. Catch also remains quite the enigma long after the movie itself is satisfied that it has wrapped all the story points up in a tiny bow at the end. Also curious is the last minute revelation that Sharon's abusive father is mildly deaf. This leads to a crucial amount of sympathy for the character who, up until this point, was made out to be nothing less than a monster. Too bad they decided to whip that out only in the final 10 minutes. Far too much in "Angel Eyes" is left up in the air to satisfy appropriately.
The conclusion of "Angel Eyes" will no doubt be controversial. Not for its content, but more for its cold authenticity. A victim of Warner Brother's desperate marketing, "Angel Eyes" doesn't pull a "Sixth Sense"-style trick in the climax as all the ads suggest. The ending is rooted in reality, and that alone deserves a pat on the back. Yet all the realism in the world doesn't stop "Angel Eyes" from ending too safely. All the carefully constructed buildup doesn't pay off dramatically, but rather emotionally. And it fails at that. It makes an already listless film all the more bland.
Filmfodder Grade: D