Angel Eyes (May 20/01)
I suppose I should warn you that this review contains spoilers, though to be completely honest, the only thing I'm spoiling is something the marketing campaign made up.
Starring Jennifer Lopez and Jim Caviezel, Angel Eyes is a romance about two lost souls. Caviezel is lost because he survived a car crash that killed his wife and son. Lopez is lost because her father has refused to speak to her ever since she turned him in for hitting her mother. One fateful day, they meet after Caviezel saves Lopez from eating a bullet. The two begin a strange and seemingly cathartic relationship, but Caviezel isn't going to let Lopez in on his past without some major prodding.
The spoiler I mentioned has to do with Caviezel. He's not an apparition, ghost, angel or any other kind of metaphysical being. He's just a man - albeit a man with some serious issues. But the marketing campaign behind Angel Eyes is determined to trick audiences into believing the film is some sort of cross between The Sixth Sense and Ghost. I suppose promoting the film for what is actually is - two hurt people that reluctantly find love with each other - is not a splashy enough angle upon which to hang a multi-million dollar advertising campaign.
What Angel Eyes does have going for it, then, are two great lead performances. Lopez, who is increasingly proving herself to be more than just MTV eye-candy, is perfect as the hard-boiled cop weary of letting her guard down. But Caviezel steals every scene he's in as the mysterious Catch. Just as he proved in the brilliant Frequency, this is an actor that, even when playing someone as enigmatic as Catch, is still the sort of guy you want to help and just plain old root for. He's the emotional core of Angel Eyes, and Caviezel is more than up to the challenge. If this guy isn't a major star within five years, why, I'll eat my hat.
What's not so good about Angel Eyes is the pacing. The movie is slower than '79 Dodge Dart that ran out of gas 20 minutes ago. Quite simply, this is a story that easily could have been told in about 45 minutes (just the amount of time a one-hour drama takes, without commercials). Had this been a stand-alone episode of some anthology series on Showtime or HBO, it would've worked a lot better. But as it is, most scenes feel padded and some subplots were seemingly tacked on (the stuff with Lopez's abusive brother-in-law was particularly useless).
But the commanding performances by the two leads more than make up for the excessively overlong running time. And sometimes, a serious, adults-only (not that kind of adults-only, you sick bastard) is a refreshing change from all those movies starring actors from the WB.