Not such a good idea remaking the 2009 Argentine thriller that won the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar. The Americanized version is miscast, misguided and misbegotten.
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Julia Roberts takes on the role played by a male actor the first time. She’s Jess Cobb, an FBI agent on the terrorist beat after the September 11th attacks, filling in for Argentina’s Dirty War. When she and her partner Ray Kasten (Chiwitel Ejiofor) find the body of a teenage girl in a dumpster behind a mosque, the dead girl is revealed as Jess’ daughter. The long arm of coincidence? Wait. You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Writer-director Billy Ray (Shattered Glass, Breach) jumps between past and present as Ray, retired to the private sector, returns to his Los Angeles FBI office in 2015, with evidence (he thinks) of the killer’s whereabouts. District attorney Claire Sloan (Nicole Kidman) wants to help, even if it means bending the rules for Ray, who she had a thing for back in the day. The movie keeps leaping across time without generating suspense or keeping its tenuous hold on reality. We know a lot has changed between 2002 and the present because Ejiofer’s beard gets grayer and Roberts grows increasingly haggard. Way before the climax, I stopped believing a word of the script. Kidman does too little and Roberts too much as the movie spins into a sea of clichés.