Director: Billy Ray
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts
Release Date: Now Available on Blu-ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
A tight-knit team of investigators — Ray (Ejiofor), Jess (Roberts) and their supervisor Claire (Kidman) — is torn apart when Jess’s teenage daughter is brutally and inexplicably murdered. After obsessively searching for the elusive killer every day for 13 years, Ray finally uncovers a new lead that he’s certain will resolve the case. No one is prepared, however, for the shocking secret that will reveal the enduring, destructive effects of personal vengeance on the human soul.
‘Secret in Their Eyes’ follows a group of investigators between two time frames surrounding the tragic murder of one of their own children and the grueling investigation that follows. After being torn apart by the horrific events in addition to the painful and unsuccessful pursuit of the one they believed responsible, they drift apart until after thirteen years of constant vigilance and searching, an old team member returns with what he believes to finally be a viable lead, certain he’s found the killer. Quietly reopening the investigation with the assistance of some old friends, the old pain again resurfaces as they make one final move in the hope of taking down the murderer for good.
Directed by Billy Ray (Breach, Shattered Glass) who also wrote the screenplay which was based upon the 2009 film ‘El Secreto De Sus Ojos’ (or ‘The Secret In Their Eyes’) and Ray does a solid job at the helm, guiding his own screenplay with a calm, composed grace complimented by a number of tense moments that balance the tone wonderfully. The film also benefits from the talented individuals that comprise the cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Alfred Molina, Michael Kelly and more, all of whom deliver competent (if not notable) performances at the very least in each of their respective roles.
‘Secret in Their Eyes’ is a solid, well constructed and tense thriller that also brings a fairly intricate mystery element to the table that should leave many guessing up until the final moments. Guided with a professional and at times unsettling calmness by director Billie Ray that sets a fitting tone for the film and complimented by a talented cast including a few fairly compelling performances and none that are noticeably lacking. Some elements of the film feel a bit forced, such as a few more emotional moments which occasionally feel unnatural while others perfectly believable. The constant jumping back and forth between the two key points of the story which are separated by a span of thirteen years can occasionally get confusing for a moment or two following the shifts due to the minor noticeable differences over the lengthy amount of time present in many of the characters, often sporting no more variation in appearance than a comical touch of grey hair or bald spot. While it certainly isn’t perfect, its high points unequivocally outweigh its low points and as a whole ‘Secret in Their Eyes’ is an enjoyable and fairly solid mystery thriller.
Overall, ‘Secret in Their Eyes’ may not be perfect, but it delivers in many of the most crucial ways and comes together as a competent, capably shot and well acted thriller that should leave many viewers guessing until the final act. It’s powerful, emotional (yet sometimes exceedingly so) and thoroughly entertaining. Many folks may not want to run out and immediately purchase a copy of this one without giving it a watch first, but I would certainly recommend checking it out if you have the opportunity to do so, it’s well worth a rental (or at least a cable watch for the more hesitant) and fans of well constructed and enthralling thrillers will likely thoroughly enjoy this one.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Secret in Their Eyes’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic, delivering a sharp, detailed picture from start to finish with no notable faults to be found within. It holds up impressively even during the numerous darkly lit and fast moving sequences, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that should generally please.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds great and holds up in every way, providing a clean, sharp and occasionally somewhat aggressive audio presentation throughout. Utilizing all five available channels on numerous occasions to surround the viewer with the (often) bass-heavy score in addition to some action related auditory elements, along with crowd chatter and similar activity, while never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a highly capable 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that occasionally contributes notably to the intensity of the film and assists in immersing you a bit further into the story.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Secret in Their Eyes’ includes an ‘Audio Commentary with Director/Screenwriter Billy Ray and Producer Mark Johnson’. We are also treated to a couple of short behind the scenes Featurettes: ‘Adapting the Story for Today’s World’ (running approximately 2 minutes in length), and ‘Julia Roberts Discusses Her Most Challenging Role’ (approximately 3 minutes).