Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA/United Kingdom/Spain/South Korea, 2015. IM Global, STX Entertainment, Route One Entertainment, Union Investment Partners, Gran Via Productions, SITE Productions, Willies Movies, Ingenious Media. Screenplay by Billy Ray, based on the film El Secreto De Sus Ojos by Juan Jose Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri. Cinematography by Daniel Moder. Produced by Matt Jackson, Mark Johnson. Music by Emilio Kauderer. Production Design by Nelson Coates. Costume Design by Shay Cunliffe. Film Editing by Jim Page.
Ten years after a gruesome murder case closely linked to his former colleague went unsolved, Chiwetel Ejiofor is still haunted by the fact that they had a suspect who was released because he had connections higher up in the department. The murder occurred in the aftermath of 9/11 and the hunt for terrorists overshadowed it as a priority, but a decade later the victim’s mother (Julia Roberts), who is also a police officer, has not recovered, and the ambitious lawyer (Nicole Kidman) who has risen in the ranks in the meantime has not forgotten about it. Ejiofor is back in Los Angeles after having spent years away from law enforcement working as private security in New York, determined to stir things up despite the fact that Kidman begs him not to in the name of both Roberts’ sanity and the political feathers that could still be ruffled. He is certain that he has found a man who matches the description of the accused and goes after him, his emotional stability called into question by people who think he on a wild goose chase. Remade from the 2009 Oscar winning thriller by Juan Jose Campanella, this film works too hard to find an equivalent to the original’s political setting (the injustices that occurred during Argentina’s Dirty War) and the strain shows as the story progresses: there is certainly something to be said about the obsession with homeland security that made that very homeland less secure in the months after the attacks on the Twin Towers, but that’s not quite the same thing as years of a military coup and director Billy Ray overloads the details in trying to make things add up. The actors put in a good day’s work and keep it from feeling trite, but Campanella’s marvelous ending is tweaked for the kind of Hollywood tidiness that destroys any hope of this one rising above the mundane.