Upon learning Universal had planned to make its own version of the 2009 Argentine movie The Secret in their Eyes, film fans were slightly sceptical.
But add Chiwetel Ejiofor to the equation and bam, you instantly have yourself a hit movie.
The actor’s performance undoubtedly makes the film a must-see, as does Julia Roberts with one of the most emotional roles of her career. By flicking back and forth between the present and the past, viewers not only have an affiliation with the characters but are also kept on their toes as they follow the story through a non-linear route.
Loosely following the original, the new version focuses on Ejiofor’s Ray and his determination to solve a case dismissed 13 years ago, swapping the original Argentinean Dirty War setting for the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
Back in the day, Ray was an FBI agent based in Los Angeles put in charge of containing threats from a local mosque. However his life changes forever when the daughter of his colleague Jess (Roberts) is found raped and murdered in a dumpster by the mosque, causing commotion among the sector. With a mission to find who murdered Carolyn (Zoe Graham), Ray and his fellow agent Bumpy (Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris back doing what he does best) set out to take things into their own hands after being put off the scent by District Attorney Martin Morales (Alfred Molina).
This isn’t the only thing which has caught Ray’s attention though, as newly-appointed assistant DA Claire Sloane (Nicole Kidman) steals his heart from the moment she waltzes in with her blonde hair and slick attire. Despite being disgruntled at Ray taking over her homicide case, Claire is level headed and turns a blind eye to Ray’s unlawful methods of hunting the wanted man – a suspicious figure starring at Carolyn in photos from the office picnic.
Things are thrown off when Ray, Bumpy and Jess discover who the culprit is, an informant for the FBI who is feeding them information about the mosque, making him untouchable. That doesn’t stop Ray though and fast forward 13 years, the agent is still hell-bent on bringing the case to justice.
While Secret in their Eyes is an engaging and insightful watch, not to mention an emotional rollercoaster, it’s not without its negative points. Many have been quick to point out that the reasoning behind not taking the murderer down isn’t strong enough, while Kidman’s character is ultimately made out to be eye candy whose intelligence is ignored. “I’ll drive,” Ray tells Claire when they race off one night on the case, leaving you wondering: ‘It’s her car – what makes you think you’re better?’ Add to that her blouse button popping off exposing her bra, and you soon get the picture.
That said, Ejiofor is immaculate throughout and although, as his character puts it, Roberts looks “about a million years old” throughout most of the movie, watching her jump into the dumpster to cradle her dead daughter is a heart-sinking scene that will leave you overcome with sadness.
Don’t go in expecting the exact same movie as the original as you’ll be left disappointed, but do watch it with an open mind and appreciate the references to the first film, like the intense elevator scene and stadium chase.
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