Secret in Their Eyes

Movies, Drama
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Secret in Their Eyes

Chiwetel Ejiofor leads an A-team cast, but this remake of the Oscar-winning Argentinian thriller is a disappointment.

This weak remake of the 2009 Oscar-winning Argentinian thriller The Secret in their Eyes gives us a cast to get excited about if little else: Julia Roberts is a pale-faced, prematurely aged Los Angeles cop still mourning her murdered daughter 13 years later. Nicole Kidman is her high-flying judicial associate and Chiwetel Ejiofor is their former colleague in a post-9/11 counterterrorism unit who still obsessively searches for the girl’s killer. There’s unfinished business all around: Ejiofor (by far the most energetic thing about the film) still holds a flame for Kidman; Kidman might regret having rejected him in the first place; and Ejiofor has his reasons for trying to solve a case that his superiors have long since dropped for spurious reasons.

The trickle-down effect of institutional corruption is part of the movie’s point: Good people behave crazily when their superiors set a warped agenda. But while the original movie persuaded us that the military dictatorship in 1970s Argentina could inspire jaw-dropping behavior, its equivalent here feels extremely bogus. Can we believe that police officers would let a psychopathic rapist and murderer go free in the name of fighting homegrown terrorism? As an allegory for human-rights abuses during the War on Terror, it's a non-starter. Writer-director Billy Ray (the screenwriter of Captain Phillips and the first Hunger Games movie) honors the Argentine original with keynote scenes set in a mirrored elevator and a crowded sports stadium, but the mood is too often sluggish and pedestrian.

By: Dave Calhoun

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Release details

Rated: PG-13
Release date: Friday November 20 2015
Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Billy Ray
Screenwriter: Billy Ray
Cast: Nicole Kidman
Julia Roberts
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Alfred Molina
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