If ever a movie was undermined by its packaging, it's this formulaic thriller about a resourceful battered wife and the brutal husband who won't let her go. Nicholas Kazan's screenplay invests most of its energy in heroine Slim's (Jennifer Lopez) attempts to elude her sadistic spouse, and director Michael Apted demonstrates admirable proficiency in staging suspense sequences bristling with imminent menace. But the entire promotional campaign is driven by the last 20 minutes, in which Slim becomes a lean, mean fighting machine and kicks the bastard's ass. Who can blame audiences for tapping their feet through the pro forma subterfuges and desperate tears that precede the mano-a-mano payoff? Hardscrabble diner waitress Slim thinks her luck has turned when handsome customer Mitch (Billy Campbell, of TV's Once and Again) takes a shine to her. Their lavish wedding is breathtaking, his wealthy parents welcome her, their new house is picture perfect and they soon have an adorable baby, Gracie, to complete their happiness. The other shoe drops when Gracie (Tessa Allen) is a toddler: Slim catches Mitch cheating and confronts him; he slugs her and threatens that if she tries to escape, he'll make her wish she'd never been born. Slim has no family her mother is dead and her father abandoned her as a child but she takes Gracie and runs anyway, enduring a brutal beating on the way out and relying on the kindness of avuncular pal Phil (Christopher Maher), scrappy best friend Ginny (Juliette Lewis) and ex-boyfriend Joe (Dan Futterman). Mitch freezes her finances, hires lawyers and shady investigators, sics goons of varying degrees of scariness on anyone he thinks might be tempted to help and finally tracks her to remote Michigan, beats her up again and wallops Gracie. If the deck were stacked any further in Slim's favor, she'd be married to Adolf Hitler Bluebeard de Sade. In addition to being far too reminiscent of SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY (1991), the film is deeply weaselly: It wants Slim to get revenge without making her seem vengeful, so even after Mitch's inhuman bona fides are established, he's got to do one last awful thing before she can come back at him with all she's got. There's some fun to be had in seeing two of TV's resident sweetie pies, Campbell and ER's Noah Wyle, play unrepentant sons of bitches, but it's not enough.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: If ever a movie was undermined by its packaging, it's this formulaic thriller about a resourceful battered wife and the brutal husband who won't let her go. Nicholas Kazan's screenplay invests most of its energy in heroine Slim's (Jennifer Lopez) attempts… (more)