2002: Ray Kasten (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Jess Cobb (Julia Roberts) are two investigators in a private police unit led by the DA. When they receive an anonymous tip about a girl raped and killed, they rush to the scene. Ray realizes it is Jess' daughter and the team falls apart due to the grief. In 2015, Ray comes back to LA, and says that after 13 years, he has found a lead and convinces the DA to reopen the case. They find clues and leads unknown to them, and secrets from the past come to light as they start discovering the real, chilling truth. Meanwhile, Jess, dissatisfied with the law, decides to take matters into her own hands and track down the killer, no matter what lengths she has to go to.Written by
In the 2002 scene where a body is discovered, two police cars are parked outside. The one with roof lights flashing has a correct-for-2002 strobe light bar, but the other (with lights off) is sporting a very modern low-profile LED light bar that would not come into existence for at least another decade. See more »
Hollywood has done it again! They have taken a successful and well made foreign film and produced a second rate theatrical release that has failed to create an impact that would be considered worthy of being mentioned in the same breathe as the original. The only thing that has saved Director Billy Ray's remake is the wealth of talent that he has been able to bring along for the ride. With a cast of prominent Oscar winners involved, 'Secret in their Eyes' should have been much more than what it ended up being - a struggling thriller that failed to boil.
I must admit that I am not familiar with the 2009 release of the Argentinian Oscar winning film, 'El secreto de sus ojos' so it would be unfair of me to directly compare the two but by all reports it is a thoroughly recommended thriller worthy of the accolades that it received at the time of its release. Because of its undoubted success, the wise and powerful elite from Movieland, felt compelled to make an English version that has been rewritten for the mass market but has forgotten one important lesson; big names doesn't mean great chemistry. In saying this though, the names of Roberts and Kidman do get the average punter to the box office and into the cinema. With very little time spent on marketing, a film like this is going to rely on the talent at hand but also must live up to expectations put upon it. Sadly it just lacked the atmosphere that puts the audience into a suspended trance whilst being on the edge of their seat.
'Secret in their Eyes' centres around a trio of characters that have their lives changed forever following a harrowing crime. Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Jess (Julia Roberts) are young investigators attached to an FBI task force based in Los Angeles not long after the tragic events of 9/11. Their main purpose is to weed out any threats of terrorism that might have a detrimental effect on the citizens of the city. Ray and Jess along with the rest of the task force have been focusing on a mosque that could be harbouring such extremist cells. The new assistant to the District Attorney, Claire (Nicole Kidman) has caught the eye of Ray and a very confusing courtship follows until an unforgettable incident happens in a garage next to the mosque that they have all been investigating. Thirteen years pass and the trio of Ray, Jess and Claire are reunited. Ray is now in private security, Jess is still with the Fed's and Claire is now the District Attorney of L.A. The events of the past have haunted all three but with Ray's determination, he relentlessly pursues the case that had such a disastrous affect on him personally, hoping for justice and to right the wrongs of the past.
'Secret in their Eyes' had such potential but it was let down by a story that cannot keep a constant flow. The narrative keeps moving back and forth from the past to the present without building any real tension. Billy Ray gives the audience too much credit in thinking that they are following the events presented to them and on many occasions you could be forgiven for being confused about which time line the film is actually in.
Roberts and Ejiofor are quite brilliant in their delivery of characters that are torn apart by a tragic event. Both are thoroughly convincing in their roles, fully engaged and manage to give the film some aspect of authenticity. It just goes to show how good these two actors really are. They are able to bring a solid performance to a narrative that lacks any evidence of a 'wow factor'. Unfortunately, Nicole Kidman cannot enjoy the same positive review for her performance. This is an actor that for too long has been over rated and her lack of skill and emotion comes to the surface alongside two outstanding craftspeople. Kidman struggles to look real. Her presence doesn't have any genuine warmth about it, and because of this, many scenes involving her character do seem a little overworked. Her relationship with Ejiofor's character, Ray, was supposed to create an atmosphere that would compliment the film on a whole. Instead, Ray and Claire seemed lifeless together and the courtship quickly became unrealistic.
All in all, 'Secret in their Eyes' is average without being anything special. Argentina's 'El secreto de sus ojos' will feel safe in knowing that it is by far the more superior version. Billy Ray's film simply is void of thrills and chemistry and without them the film suffers to find a pulse. At 111 minutes, viewers will be glad that it doesn't drag on more than it has to but if you want to see how brilliant actors are able to deliver rousing performances on a less than thrilling script then 'Secret in their Eyes' could be a fine example.
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