Having the romance genre serve as a backdrop in order to hide the horrid morals presented can feel especially obvious if the tactics to gain an audience’s reaction are so blatant. I knew from this aspect alone, given how Angel Eyes was handled, that I was set to hate the film (and what a surprise, I loathed it). It is so easy to pinpoint where everything in Angel Eyes starts falling apart the moment in which Jim Caviezel stares at Jennifer Lopez while she is pinned to the ground. I never expected something that would nearly be half as trite as what we were offered but Angel Eyes only began to make me madder from there. This is a film where almost everything it has going for it fails down spectacularly – into something deplorable.
One can at least get the idea of where the film is setting itself up to fall down from the role of Jim Caviezel, in which he is playing a man going by the name of “catch.” He does good things for people whom he does not know, but he also carries a blank emotion on his face the whole time. He watches the police officer Sharon Pogue (Jennifer Lopez) inside of a cafe and he also saves her life, but when the two of them talk with each other he never talks about himself. It was from moments like this where I knew that Angel Eyes was already going to fall apart, but I had no idea that what I would be witnessing were something that were nearly as loathsome as what I received.
The portrait given to Jim Caviezel’s character is flat out reprehensible, for it could either come off as creepy if it were being watched as an ordinary person witnessing events take place, or insulting if it were intended to be portraying a character with a mental condition. The fact that we know so little about Caviezel’s character is a perfect summary of everything that is wrong with Angel Eyes, as the image to which it wishes to create for this role never has a clear identity. All we know about him is that wherever he is going he tries to perform nothing else but good deeds, but his odd behavior is never something that the film explores in detail – hindering any form of connection which may have been a desired effect.
What I also despise most about Caviezel’s character arc is the fact that the film only presents him as a “good Samaritan” stereotype and it becomes clear from there that the film is only preaching all the more in your face – sinking even further as we get Jennifer Lopez’s budding romantic interest in Caviezel. It bothers me more than the fact that they lack chemistry because it’s clear that the film is trying to find a manner to force out a viewer’s tears but the problem with how Luis Mandoki is presenting it is that he is not creating something proper in terms of the morals which are being left behind. It felt so beaten down to the point that everything about what we were watching became all the more begrudging as it went on. I nearly threw up at the film’s attempts to establish something more with where the relationship between Lopez and Caviezel was going, because it was so stupid and insulting to the point it becomes unbelievable.
It is also made all the more begrudging of a watch when you come to consider the lack of passion put into this product. Whether it be the script, the direction, or just the overall composition – absolutely nothing about Angel Eyes ever has a desire to leap out for instead it is busy preaching as much as it can out of the stereotypes which is creates from its character arcs or the storyline. Nothing ever has a desire to stand out aside from the reprehensibly bad execution of its morals and its desire to jerk out as many tears as it can from its audience because it is making everything all too obvious. Every note, every action that defines Angel Eyes is so blatantly obvious and thus creates what is easily one of the worst cases of emotional manipulation that I have had the misfortune of having to put myself through.
Never have I seen anything else out there much like Angel Eyes in the sense that it made me want to bash myself in from just the overall feeling of disgust that lingered inside of my head when it was still going on. Manipulative, passionless, and offensive on many levels, I’ve never seen something so shameless and proud of itself from just how it was crafted – and for as long as I never have to watch Angel Eyes again at any point in my life, I will be more than satisfied. I kept on waiting for something in Angel Eyes that would grab my interest aside from Jim Caviezel’s clear lack of interest in the role, but instead I was only sitting through something so offensively bland and continuously never sparked anything more than that.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Warner Bros.
Directed by Luis Mandoki
Screenplay by Gerald Di Pego
Produced by Mark Canton, Elie Samaha
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel
Release Year: 2001
Running Time: 102 minutes