Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Angel Eyes

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Jennifer Lopez’s Sharon is a coffee-and-cream Venus in police blues in Angel Eyes, a bland blend of weak gothic romance and bitter family melodrama spiced up with a couple of opening splashes of action.

The pewter clouds of the opening credit sequence silently promise mystery and romance. They deliver Sharon Pogue, a Chicago beat cop, tough as leather, more comfortable in her bulletproof vest and blues than in a dress and makeup. On a dark, wet city street, she steps through the debris of a car crash and stares at us through the wreckage, an official angel of mercy. She encourages us to hold on as the frame tilts and slides into darkness.

One year later, our eyes find her again through the window of a diner sitting with her fellow cops as they have coffee, a bite to eat and some laughs. We realize our eyes are Catch Lambert’s (James Caviezel). Tall, dark and handsome, Catch is a James Dean type from his brooding brow to his long overcoat. His talent for emerging from the shadows is only equaled by Sharon’s talent for making a police uniform look sexy. As he watches her, his eyes longing and clouded with some mysterious loss, bullets break glass and shatter his reverie as gangbangers do a drive-by, spraying the diner with machine gun fire. Wrecking their ride, they flee on foot with Sharon in hot pursuit. But it’s Catch who will end up as the hero, the knight in dark overcoat to Sharon’s bulletproof, but emotionally vulnerable, damsel in distress.

And that’s it for the action, guys. But while your dates either moon over Caviezel and dab their eyes (if they’re especially susceptible to melodrama, as Angel Eyes woodenly pulls at their heartstrings) or scoff at its hardcore soap operatics, at least there’s always room for J-Lo. This is definitely her vehicle. She plays the cop with the appropriate hardness and the gait of a boxer, but occasionally pitches the role with a little too much pepper. She seems to have as many problems jerking tears for Gerald Di Pego’s (Instinct) patchwork subplots of domestic abuse and loss as the audience does.

But acting is believing and Caviezel is a true believer. His twilight blue eyes manage to maintain a fog of sorrowful dreams blinding him to his current life of loss, enigmatic until his mysteries are revealed in the movie’s attempt at a tear-jerking climax.

In the end, even J-Lo’s beauty and charisma, and Caviezel’s more than competent acting, can’t lift this movie from submediocrity. It suggests gothic romance with the darkness and violence of its opening sequences and the family problems of Sharon and Catch, but veers into the sunlight and an all-too-convenient feel-good ending. Angel Eyes ends up blind to what good, melodramatic romance should be about.

Visit the Angel Eyes official Web site at angeleyesmovie.warnerbros.com/.

E-mail James Keith La Croix at letters@metrotimes.com.

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