It’s not surprising that Julia Roberts rose to the bait of this remake of Juan Jose Campanella’s 2009 Buenos Aires-based crime thriller – “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” – that won an Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film. Once America’s smiling sweetheart, Roberts plays an entirely different role, as complex Jess Cobb, a grungy, grief-stricken investigator for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. Read on…
“You look a million years old,” says her observant DA boss, impeccably elegant Claire Sloan (Nicole Kidman).
Back in 2002, Jess’s teenage daughter, Caroline, was brutally raped and murdered, her body found in a dumpster near the local mosque, but the suspected killer, Marzin (Joe Cole), was never brought to justice.
Determined to track him down, Ray Kasten (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an empathetic, former F.B.I. terrorism expert, has doggedly pursued each and every lead for 13 years. He’s an obsessive vigilante, accompanied by his colleague Bumpy (Dean Norris).
As one character astutely comments, “We’re not just crossing the line, we’re burying it.”
Adapted and directed by Billy Ray (“Captain Phillips,” “Shattered Glass”) with cinematography by Julia’s now-estranged-husband Danny Moder, this recycled police procedural suffers from problematic characters and too many contrived coincidences, confusingly veering back-and-forth between 2002 and 2015.
One of the biggest disappointments is how the original crowded soccer-stadium chase sequence has been dumbed-down to a boring, poorly staged pursuit in Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium.
Obviously encouraged by her Academy Award nomination for “August: Osage County,” Julia Roberts seems determined to defy expectations by pursuing meaty, off-beat characterizations – without glamorous makeup.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Secret in Their Eyes” is a tepid, forgettable 4, a pulpy, inferior imitation of its Argentinean predecessor.