Secret in Their Eyes Movie Review
It’s hard to get into a movie when you know how it ends. Secret in Their Eyes is a remake of the 2009 Argentinian Oscar-winner of almost the same name, a movie about the prolonged hunt for a killer that has one memorably disturbing moment. It’s also a movie that I called “one of the best movies of the decade.”
So why would you remake an Oscar-winning movie that was made less than a decade ago?
Because it’s not in fucking English, that’s why.
That’s the only reason, and when that’s the only reason, you know you’re not going to get a quality product. This new Secret in Their Eyes features a terrific cast—Chiwtel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts—and comes from the screenwriter behind Breach, State of Play, Captain Phillips, The Hunger Games and a personal favorite of mine, Shattered Glass. On its own, it’s perfectly fine, and for the vast majority of Americans who refuse to watch movies with little words on the screen, Secret in Their Eyes will keep them (you?) engaged and on edge well enough.
But I don’t have the luxury of ignorant bliss, and when you know exactly how the movie will end from the first minute onward, it’s hard to get too excited about all the stuff leading up to it.
Especially when the stuff leading up to the ending just isn’t as good. For some reason, writer/director Billy Ray decided to add a bunch of distracting material involving a terrorism task force and sets half of the film in the months following 9/11. As if sensing the material wasn’t compelling enough, Ray jumps back and forth between the past and present, an approach that isn’t so much jarring as it is ineffective.
Ejiofor is fine if unremarkable, and spends most of his time acting angry and ignoring laws—ironic given that he has an odd, boyish crush on the assistant district attorney (Nicole Kidman, who is at the top of her game). Roberts is unfortunately underutilized and largely forgettable, very strange given the role she has.
Secret in Their Eyes is the sloppily made clone of a better, more interesting story. For those of you who haven’t seen the original, you might find it to be a serviceable thriller—and, in fairness, it is. But there’s a better, slicker and more gripping film out there, and this bastardized Hollywood version with Hollywood stars simply doesn’t compare.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.