Bounced around the 2015 release schedule in the US and now finally seeing its UK debut; Secret In Their Eyes runs the tried and tested gambit of US-made remakes of foreign-language thrillers with big name casts, the results on par with what you’d expect of the pedigree. Neither as enjoyably schlocky as Paul Haggis’ Pour Elle remake The Next Three Days, nor as woefully creaky as Brian De Palma’s Crime d’amour remake Passion; Billy Ray’s restaging of the 2009 Argentine thriller El secreto de sus ojos ticks the relevant boxes, yet perhaps loses poignancy in translation.
Chiwetel Ejiofor leads the way here as former FBI investigator Ray Karsten. As his colleague in the DA’s office is forced to stand aside in the wake of her daughter’s brutal murder, Ray dedicates himself to finding and building a case against the man responsible. But as it emerges that his suspect is entwined within ongoing terror investigations, Ray can only watch in horror as his case is crumbled before him. Thirteen years later however, his person of interest resurfaces under a new name; and this time Ray will stop at nothing to see justice served.
Ejiofor stands firm at the centre of Billy Ray’s remake as one of the most consistent and engaging performers around these days Following the constant lull that was John Hillcoat’s recent Triple 9, it’s nice to see Ejiofor get something with so much more range so soon; his chemistry with literally his entire supporting cast easily the films undeniable highlight. Of course, it helps that said supporting cast is made up of such high calibre names as it is; with the likes of Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and Alfred Molina delivering requisitely excellent turns, and recent TV zeitgeisters Dean Norris and Michael Kelly impressively holding their own to boot.
It’s a lack of forward thrust which hobbles Secret In Their Eyes; Ray’s low-energy production underserving what should be a compelling twisty-turny adult thriller, yet instead renders it something of a hushed whisper of a drama. Both on the page and behind the camera, Ray feels uninvolved; a huge disservice to an interesting story and a frankly marvellous cast. An intriguing story – complete with a rare dash of bravery in its eventual unfolding – is sadly inert on Billy Ray’s watch; and if the title of his film has any exterior context to speak of, it’s very possibly that his cast are more than aware of it, content to deliver their best regardless.
Secret In Their Eyes is in cinemas nationwide from Friday, February 26th; rated 15. Check out the trailer below.