1 out of 5 stars
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There's a nagging familiarity to this film that takes us back to an early Julia Roberts thriller that wasn't nearly as good as everyone remembers it being. Yes I'm talking about Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), so obviously an inspiration that this feels like a remake. Slim (Lopez) meets and marries Mitch (Campbell), the perfect man, wealthy, handsome and soon a wonderful dad to their precocious little daughter Gracie (Allen). Then one day she discovers he's having an affair. And more than that, he gets violent and cruel and won't let her go. Her world is shattered. She takes Gracie and goes on the run, changing her name, hiding with friends, moving every few days, but he seems able to find her no matter what she does. So she trains herself to be the ultimate fighting-machine super-spy and goes back for revenge.

Until the film condones cold-blooded premeditated murder, it's actually rather gripping, in a "switch your brain off and don't think about it" sort of way. The moment you apply any logic to the story or characters it falls to pieces. Mitch turns just far too deeply evil, for one thing. It seems frightfully convenient that Slim discovers her long-lost dad (Ward), who just happens to have enough spare cash lying around to rescue her, and to fund her high-tech vengeance scheme, which is so Hollywoodised that it isn't believable for a second. When J-Lo starts hearing the voice of her trainer (Young) in her head at the end, the audience erupts in guffaws! That said, the acting is very good. Lopez makes her character someone we can root for; she pretty much single-handedly carries us through the film. The supporting cast adds interest to the side characters that fills in the thin plot. And Apted keeps things slick and involving. Yes, this is efficient solid filmmaking, wrapped around an essentially reprehensible storyline. And it's startlingly entertaining unless you engage your brain.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 24.Sep.02

dir Michael Apted
scr Nicholas Kazan
with Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Noah Wyle, Tessa Allen, Juliette Lewis, Dan Futterman, Fred Ward, Bill Cobbs, Bruce A Young, Jeff Kober, Christopher Maher, Janet Caroll
release US 24.May.02; UK 29.Nov.02
02/US 1h25

Not gonna take it. Slim studies hard and learns how to fight back (Young and Lopez)...

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall