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Secret In Their Eyes (Blu-ray Review)

secret in their eyes coverWith a strong cast and a talented writer/director at the helm, remaking the 2009 Argentine film The Secret In Their Eyes (which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film) seemed like a decent enough idea. I am happy to recommend the original film, as it is strong piece of filmmaking in al regards. This Americanized-version, however, comes up lacking. Still, there is a solid Blu-ray here to behold, with some solid work from those involved in the film that maybe makes Secret In Their Eyes worthwhile. Find out in this Blu-ray review.

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Film:

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The film jumps back and forth between two timelines. The same characters are featured in both. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Ray, an FBI counter-terrorism investigator. In the first timeline, set in 2002, he is teamed up with Jess (Julia Roberts) and they make a shocking discovery. Jess’ daughter was found murdered on a location the two were monitoring. This makes things difficult, as the suspect could be more vital to a bigger case with potential to save more lives.

You also have Claire (Nicole Kidman), an assistant DA hired on around the same time as Ray. Ray quickly develops a crush on Claire, clouding his judgement as far as how to proceed in handling a case that does not belong to him and dealing with the DA (Alfred Molina), who has to serve the greater good. The second timeline involves how these characters come back together 13 years later and what time has done to these people and their thoughts on personal vengeance.

Unfortunately I’m going to have to do a little comparison to the original. This film basically retains the same plotting, but there seems to be a lot missing from the logic that never felt like an issue in the 2009 film. Writer/director Billy Ray is very talented (see Breach), but is feels like there are a lot of first draft scenes here. One thing I never really like in film is to see characters that should be incredibly smart makes moves that are incredibly dumb.

The key example is Ejiofor, an actor I otherwise tend to think is one of the best of today, continually falls flat due to material that fails him. We are told clearly that he is very good at his job, but have to watch him flounder and break countless rules in an effort to get justice for his partner and his romantic interest. The film doesn’t do enough to justify his behavior and I just watch shaking my head, as Ray constantly gets in the way of himself.

The romantic plotting, in general, is fairly week, as there is a real lack of nuance in anything between Ray and Claire. That said, Kidman is quite good here. She has the sort of authority that fits here to makes her seem deceptively vulnerable, while having a handle on everything going on. The best of this trio is Roberts however, who really commits to becoming a shell of a person, following the tragedy that sets up the film.

It doesn’t help that the mystery aspect is never that mysterious. Even if I was not aware of the story ahead of time, there is not enough here to really propel this material in a way that intrigues more than any other standard thriller. Some of that is due to a lack of really nailing the setting. Secret In Their Eyes is set in Los Angeles, yet I never really questioned the location in a way that made the film feel empty.

Despite some great potential, Secret In Their Eyes does not really do enough to triumph as either a solid retelling of a story or a fine procedural thriller in its own right. The cast is fine, including some nice supporting work from Michael Kelly and Dean Norris, but some mishandling of Ejiofor’s character, coupled with other choices keep it from being anything special.

Video:

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Despite lacking more identifiable in terms of location, the Blu-ray’s video transfer is clean enough. The sharp and crisp image does well to support both outdoor and indoor locations, with plenty of clarity to give you a good view of what is to be seen.

Depth: Distance is handled well enough, when it comes to tracking the depth seen on this Blu-ray.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and inky, making good use of shadow when the time calls for it, in addition to nighttime sequences.

Color Reproduction: There is not much to the camera work here, beyond procedural elements, but the colors pop when necessary.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are strong throughout.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: You get plenty of atmosphere thanks to the score that gives you plenty of moments to know something is happening. It all sounds great due to the lossless soundtrack that does a fine job making all the beats count.

Low Frequency Extension: Gun fire and some big moments help add to the LFE channel use, which is good stuff.

Surround Sound Presentation: The film is mostly center-focused, but ambient noise and the score do make good use of the surrounding channels.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and clear.

 

Extras:

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We do get a commentary, which makes the extra features worthwhile, even if the featurettes are far too short.

Features Include:

  • Adapting the Story for Today’s World (HD, 1:59) – A short look at the adaptation of this story for America.
  • Julia Roberts Discusses Her Most Chellenging Role (HD, 3:23) – Another short conversation, where Roberts talks about a key moment from the film.
  • Feature Commentary with Director/Screenwriter Billy Ray and Producer Mark Johnson
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film – iTunes and UltraViolet

 

Summary:

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Secret In Their Eyes put the right pieces in the same box, but failed to assemble them correctly. It is unfortunate, as the story is a good one, but the handling is essential. The emotion coming out of the performances makes it partially worthwhile and the strong technical aspects of the Blu-ray help as well. I wish the special features were more worthwhile, but you can’t have it all for a smaller-scale film

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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