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The Trouble With 'Angel Eyes'

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 18, 2001


    'Angel Eyes' Jim Caviezel and Jennifer Lopez star in "Angel Eyes."
(Warner Bros.)
Give "Angel Eyes" credit for trying to be a better movie.

A romantic mystery that's built entirely around Jennifer Lopez's appeal – dramatic and otherwise – this movie does its journeyman best with a handful of familiar chestnuts: the mysterious man (played by Jim Caviezel) who may, or may not, be an earthly angel; the dysfunctional family who are all living under the emotional yoke of Big Bad Dad; and the police officer (Lopez) who has a hard time taking off that badge and being emotionally open and vulnerable.

Lopez is Chicago cop Sharon Pogue, who's chasing a gunman when she's ambushed. The bad guy is just about to blast out her brains when a stranger (Caviezel) saves the day. She's shocked but, of course, greatly relieved.

Naturally, she's curious. So she gets to know this guy, who calls himself Catch. He's a hard one to know. He doesn't have much to say about himself. But he's got this celestial glow in the eyes. There's something about him. And he seems very interested in her.

The subplot comes up, soon enough. Sharon's parents (Victor Argo and Sonia Braga), who've been through some tough times, want to renew their vows. Sharon who – as a cop – confronted her father's abusive ways, is less than enthused by her invitation to the ceremony. Estranged from her father, she's not sure what to do.

We have two things hanging in the balance: Who is Catch? Will Sharon make up with Dad? Unfortunately, the movie (directed by Luis Mandoki) doesn't give itself much more. Which means the movie has to take its time solving them (or run out of material before the end). And that makes the going a little slow and rather frustrating, especially when we learn the truth about Catch. At first, the movie makes him a compelling enigma. By the end, it makes him a Hollywood banality. His background story isn't staggeringly original.

But there's a nice atmosphere to the movie, thanks to Lopez's earthy, straightforward performance; the visual import of Caviezel, who's great to look at (at least, for a while); and the movie's rejection of a crowd-pleasing shoot-em-up climax. "Angel Eyes" is about a cop's need to clean out the psychic cobwebs from her life and help Catch clean out his. This is all about getting your life back on course before you can fall in love. Which isn't such a bad idea for a movie, as long as there's something more. Unfortunately, there isn't.

"Angel Eyes" (R, 104 minutes) – Contains sexual scenes, obscenity, car crash violence and a few shoot-em-up scenes.


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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