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Title: Secret in their Eyes

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:78

What would you do to track down a killer who got away? What would you sacrifice in order to bring him/her to justice? Nothing is more horrible than losing a loved one, but I think that watching the killer get off Scott free is something that would eat away at anyone. The knowledge that someone did something horrible and that he was walking the streets like nothing had ever happened. I’ve personally experienced a similar situation but on a much smaller scale, so the idea that someone could kill your daughter, or your friend, and just walk away into the sunset is enough to put someone over the edge. “Secret in their Eyes” follows the sojourning of three such people. The chaos that 13 years of sorrow have wrought and the resulting damage it has done to their souls. “Secret in their Eyes” is a good little thriller that sometimes gets a bit too turned up in itself to really be as effective as it could be, but as I said, a good little thriller nonetheless.

13 years ago the threat of terrorists and the fear that came with that threat was taking over the U.S. by storm. 911 had happened just one year ago and the FBI and Homeland Security were watching Mosques rigorously in an effort to thwart potential threats before they had a chance to start. An FBI agent named Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was working with the LAPD and the Attorney General’s office to monitor these threats, along with several members of a joint task force. The film starts out in the present, but skips backwards through the past in a scene by scene basis, telling us just WHY Ray is back in LA after 13 years. It seems that Ray had left the FBI after his partner in the task force, an officer named Jess (Julia Roberts), who has lost her daughter to a random murder in the city. Ray is able to find out just WHO might be the suspect, but there’s a hitch. The guy in question happens to be the snitch for the terror cell that their task force is aiming to take down. As a result the superior officers make him untouchable.

This suspect had vanished shortly afterwards, but Ray has been tracking him down for over 13 years and FINALLY thinks he’s found him, which is why he’s back in LA. Desperately trying to get the case reopened, Ray and Jess team up with an old flame, now the attorney General, named Claire (Nicole Kidman) and try to bring down the murderer of Jess’s daughter who escaped so many years ago. However, things aren’t as easy as they seem, being that Claire isn’t so sure that this suspect really IS the guy, as the evidence is largely based on Ray’s hunches. Not to mention the fact that the same superiors who buried the case so many years ago aren’t too happy about Ray poking his nose into the whole affair after so many years.

“Secret in their Eyes” is less about the capture of the murderer, but more about the effects that this case has had on the lives of the people who are in the know. Claire is fairly normal on the outside, but she has spent years dealing with a closet attraction to Ray, and while he has/had a HUGE flame for her all these years, her hidden secret of harboring an attraction to him has changed her in many ways. Ray is obviously torn up and has spent over a decade hunting down the killer in the private sector, despite no longer having any authority. Riddled with guilt for missing the meeting that he had with Jess’s daughter and blaming himself for her death, he is doing everything he can in order to assuage his conscience and do what he believes is right. Jess is the most grief stricken (naturally), but there is as sense of darkness under the surface. One that only someone who has suffered like she has suffered can relate to.

There’s some cool plot twists along the way, with the final one being a creepy and bone chilling one that actually caught me by surprise. I won’t go too much into detail but there were several twists along the way that I felt were the ending, only to have this hidden one come out and bite me. Despite my enjoyment of the movie I felt there was quite a bit of bloat as well. The romance between Ray and Claire was a bit convoluted and went on for way too long. It almost feels like a distraction as the real case about the killer gets sidelines and pushed to the side so that we don’t pay TOO close attention to the clues along the way. Not to mention the fractured nature of the story shifting back and forth through time sometimes caused one to pause and remember WHERE they were in the plot structure. Or more accurately, WHEN they were.


Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving disturbing violent content, language and some sexual references

Video :4.5stars:
Given a slightly burnished look with a light white level, “Secret in their Eyes” revels in the fact that it’s a grim looking film that still showcases some great looking detail. The color grading is fairly natural, but a slightly pasty look is given to the skin tones while there is a hint of burnished gold to the color palette that pokes it’s head up every once in a while. The black levels are paramount to the quality of the film, as much of it is shrouded in darkness, and those black levels never disappoint. The levels are deep and inky, almost negatively so at some points as crush comes into the picture here and there (sometimes even in the brightly lit sequences). Fine detail is great with excellent facial textures and excellent long shots, although the film is ever so slightly soft and hazy in some portions. E.G. the scene where Claire patches up Ray after getting his butt handed to him by his coveted suspect.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track for “Secret in our Eyes” is a fairly laid back drama style track, but there are moments of action and chaos that bring the turtle out of its shell. Dialog is strong and clean with no issues with distortion, although sometimes voices can get overly soft and I had to crank the volume knob JUST a hair to hear what was being said. The flurries of activity like Ray getting into a chase at the baseball stadium, or the shootout in the chop shop sound vigorous and aggressive with great LFE and wonderful surround activity. Other times the surrounds fade into the background when it’s more a dialog centric situation. LFE still adds some nice weight to the track though, especially when a swelling crescendo for the score happens or the roar of a vehicle on the road comes into play.

Extras :2stars:

• Adapting the Story for Today's World
• Julia Roberts Discusses Her Most Challenging Role
• Feature Commentary with Director/Screenwriter Billy Ray and Producer Mark Johnson

Overall: :4stars:

“Secret in their Eyes” is not a perfect adaptation to the South American film of the same name from 2009, but it is a fun thriller that has enough good actors doing their job to really keep it more interesting than it should have otherwise been. The convolute plot is oddly structured, but certainly entertaining as it comes to its inevitable conclusion. Audio and video are great, and while the extras are fairly slim, the commentary with Director/Writer Billy Ray was certainly a lot of fun. Recommended for a watch.

Additional Information:

Starring: Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman
Directed by: Billy Ray
Written by: Billy Ray (Screenplay), Juan José Campanella (Original Short Film)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 111 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 23rd 2016

Buy Secret In Their Eyes On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended for a Watch

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. The trailer looks great. I will first have to check out the original foreign film El Secreto de sus ojo (Best Foreign Language Film, 2010) and then will check this movie out. Thanks.

HTS Moderator , Reviewer
5,742 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I sadly have not see the 2009 film. I really want to as I heard it was superior to the American remake
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