Never Enough: J.Lo's got the goods
Versatile director Michael Apted (Coal Miner's Daughter, The World Is Not Enough, 7-42 Up) offers a standard woman-in-jeopardy thriller, Enough, trying again with a genre that eluded him in Blink. This time he shows he's got the goods. People who consume these movies like popcorn, who aren't tired of the premise, will get their money's worth, but Enough won't win any converts.
Jennifer Lopez follows in the footsteps of just about any actress you can name in having her own footsteps followed by a man with murder on his mind. He's Mitch (Billy Campbell), who meets Slim (Lopez) in a diner where she's waitressing. Even though he comes from money and owns a successful construction company, he marries her, and their life is idyllic.
When Slim finds a house she likes Mitch tries to buy it for her. He warns the owner, who has no interest in selling, not to argue with "one determined crazy person." This is our first hint of his dark side before we see how determined and how crazy he is.
They have a daughter, Gracie (Tessa Allen), and a few years later Slim discovers Mitch is having an affair, not for the first time. "I'm a man," he tells her. "Men and women have different needs." Hysteria proves a bad strategy for Slim. It only makes Mitch hit her and declare, "I make the money here, so I set the rules."
The police won't help unless they catch Mitch in the act of abusing his wife. Ginny (Juliette Lewis), Slim's best friend from her diner days, tells her she can either put up with his mistreatment "like you're in a goddamned country-western song," or take the daughter and run.
The latter course isn't as easy as it sounds. "Love is a scary thing," Mitch warns her. "I refuse to live without you." Slim and Gracie flee from L.A. to Seattle to San Francisco to Northern Michigan, with Mitch's thugs right behind. Slim calls on her support system, including Ginny, ex-boyfriend Joe (Dan Futterman), and Jupiter (Fred Ward), the father she's never seen.
Jupiter blows her off at first, but when he realizes what she's up against he decides to help her. She's got spunk. He likes spunk. But spunk is not (pardon the expression) enough when you're dealing with a psycho like Mitch, whom Campbell makes truly fearsome. When he gets around to the cliché, "If I can't have you, nobody will," we believe it.
It's too late to warn you not to watch the trailer, and if you have you've seen all but about the last 20 minutes of the picture, the final confrontation. It's amazingly brutal for a PG-13 movie, again demonstrating the hypocrisy of the rating system.
The early scenes are introduced with titles, cute little "chapter headings." (One of them, "More than Enough," sounds like we've segued directly into the sequel.) This practice is dropped without explanation, as are several characters, one of whom pops up in the final scene after being missing and presumed dead for half the picture. Slim hires a look-alike to serve as a decoy in San Francisco, but we never learn the extent of her double's jeopardy.
There are lots of little glitches that may bother you if you're not totally caught up in the story. Why, for instance, doesn't Mitch set his security alarm at night? How would the car chase over Slim's carefully planned escape route turn out if the pursuer was in another kind of vehicle? And which visual should you believe: is Slim's Michigan hideaway in Fairview or Fairport?
J.Lo is up to the acting challenge. She hasn't disappointed yet except when she tried comedy in The Wedding Planner; she might be taken even more seriously if she weren't so successful as a mediocre recording artist.
"We bend the universe to our will," Slim's personal trainer (Bruce A. Young) tells her, "but it will only go so far." For Lopez fans and those who have an endless capacity for this type of thriller, this film's universe will bend far Enough.