Review: Secret in Their Eyes

This is a film which despite a fairly star-studded cast, has received precious little attention and advertising, but is worth a watch but before I explain why, here’s a brief idea of what the film’s about: a team of investigators has their world turned upside down upon discovering that a victim is in fact one of their own teenage daughters, who has been brutally murdered. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, a thriller in search of the murderer and justice for one of their own.

This is the second cop-thriller for Ejiofor this year with Triple 9 having been released only a few weeks earlier and it feels like decent territory for him, he may have hit screens harder as the lead in 12 Years a Slave but this is a much different sense of anger and determination, which he commits to very well. There’s a sense to Ejiofor that he can play characters you would not want to cross, a great feeling of strange and danger while remaining the hero which works much to his advantage with this film. Then there’s Julia Roberts as mother of the murdered victim, and who feels much more of a background character, with nevertheless a very vital part to play but her moments are much more specific than a general presence throughout the film, although as always it’s a perfect choice and her transition from confident investigator to childless mother is portrayed greatly between both appearance and behaviour, it’s Julia Roberts what’s not to love? But then there’s Kidman, who feels more like a misplaced love interest for Ejiofor’s character, who immediately seems to have an obsessive interest in, despite it being played as a genuine connection. Realistically it could either be a lack of spark between the two on screen or it could be that in repeated films Kidman encounters cliched over sexualised characters with not much substance, and lack of actual appeal which comes across as almost sleazy, and despite being a talented actress she could have perhaps been replaced by a more fitting and strong presence on screen.

But what films of this genre generally rely upon is the draw of their story, which this one has in spades and it’s well distributed throughout the feature, giving the classic gradual ramp up for a real punch in the stomach as it nears the end. The problem can often be predictability and that the story will give itself away within the first half hour of viewing, which this film doesn’t and keeps some twists behind its back, for a more satisfying ending, which is the most important thing in a mystery or thriller. For the actual presentation of the film, it feels slightly more lightweight than it should and perhaps if it had veered down a slightly darker path which is extremely popular at the moment, it would have made bigger waves theatrically. It’s a decent film but a slightly more suspense giving score and haunting visuals could have taken it to a complete other level. Also the choice of something other than working in a terrorist unit that is monitoring a mosque would have been useful, it’s a much overused plot choice that reflects badly and could actually probably have been easily replaced.

On the whole it’s a good film, keeps your attention and gives a satisfying story, the only drawback is that it feels like so many other films and programs we’ve seen before and there’s not a lot to separate it. It’s definitely something I would recommend watching but it feels like it’s going to make minimal dent in the bigger picture, although I will quite possibly check out the previous Argentinian adaptation of 2009 which currently sits with a respectable 8.2 on IMDB over this adaptation’s 6.2.

Verdict: 7/10

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