Enough (United States, 2002)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Michael Apted is one of those rare, versatile filmmakers who can make mindless Hollywood blockbusters and thoughtful independent productions with equal aplomb. Apted's resume is as impressive as it is diverse, and has included a handful of critically praised documentaries, a James Bond movie (The World Is Not Enough), and an Oscar-nominated drama (Coal Miner's Daughter). Enough is Apted at his most commercial, and, unfortunately, his least compelling. This is a by-the-numbers thriller that doesn't even succeed on the most basic, visceral level. One can only hope that Apted is taking his salary for this effort and putting it into the next movie in the 7 Up series.

For Slim (Jennifer Lopez), life is transformed virtually overnight from familial bliss to a conjugal nightmare. For five years of marriage, Mitch (Billy Campbell) has been nothing but a loving husband and a caring father to the couple's daughter, Grace (Tessa Allen). One day, however, Slim discovers that Mitch has a mistress. When she confronts him, he turns violent, hitting her twice then warning her not to consider leaving him. Afraid for her daughter's safety, Slim recruits her friend, Ginny (Juliette Lewis), and her former boss, Phil (Christopher Maher), to help her and Grace escape. But Mitch is not willing to let go. Using the significant financial resources at his command, he tracks Slim and Grace down, no matter where they settle. Their lives become a series of changed identities and temporary residences. Finally, Mitch goes too far and Slim decides that her only option is to stop running and confront her husband once and for all.

Enough is essentially a revenge thriller with a long, drawn-out setup. In many ways, it's a lot like Sleeping with the Enemy, although that movie did not throw in the plot complication of a child. The build-up in a revenge thriller is intended to be like foreplay - titillation leading to the raw, violent climax where the protagonist kicks the villain's ass. Unfortunately, in Enough, the build-up is clumsy, inept, and unnecessarily drawn-out. The end game delivers what it's supposed to, but the material leading up to it is so dull and repetitious that it's a wonder anyone will still be awake by the time Slim and Mitch finally go one-on-one. The middle section of the movie, representing over half the running length, is comprised of a series of events happening repeatedly: Slim and Grace find a new hiding place, Mitch's lackeys ferret them out and do something threatening, Slim and Grace move on. Then, like in the song "Michael Finnegan", begin again.

Watching Enough, I was struck by the notion that perhaps the filmmakers thought they were doing something unique - turning the tables on the villain by making the hunted the hunter. But there are plenty of stories about abused wives fighting back, and one doesn't have to look any further than another recent Grade-B thriller, Double Jeopardy, to find an instance in which a wronged woman hunted down her snake of a husband with the intention of eliminating him. (And, as in Double Jeopardy, Enough is content to ignore any legal and logical loopholes it encounters.)

There was a time when Jennifer Lopez was a good actress. Films like Selena and Out of Sight confirmed her as a talent to watch - someone with the charisma to capture the camera's attention and the ability to hold it. Now, however, she's no longer "Jennifer Lopez, actor." She's the pre-packaged "J-Lo", and her commitment to becoming a reigning pop queen has impaired not only her freedom to choose interesting projects, but her willingness to throw herself into a role. The result? J-Lo is just so-so. She can do the part (just about any competent actress could), but I never identified Slim as anything more human than a string of clich├ęs linked together on a writer's pad. More time is spent developing Slim's look than her personality, proving that, where Lopez is concerned, image is paramount.

For most of Billy Campbell's career, he has been known as the "nice guy", whether under the suit in The Rocketeer or speaking sweet nothings to Sela Ward in the recently cancelled "Once and Again". In Enough, Campbell plays against type, trying to show that he can be a badass. For most of the movie, he is convincing as a bastard: cold, menacing, and cruel. Towards the end, the script forces him to go into full psycho mode, and that's something that only Dennis Hopper (or someone like him) can really pull off. Until then, however, he's credible. That's more than can be said for Noah Wyle (Dr. John Carter in "ER"), whose attempts to be sleazy and dastardly are not believable.

This is one of those rare times when I don't have anything bad to say about Juliette Lewis, who is relegated to the "best friend" role. Lewis is fine as Ginny - there are no annoying mannerisms, no vacant stare, and no mugging for the camera. Maybe maturity has taught her a thing or two about her profession. On the other hand, maturity is something Tessa Allen needs. As child actors go, she's better than average, but her whimpering during a car chase got on my nerves. One could reasonably argue that a child trapped in the back seat of a car in this situation might be freaked out, but why did the movie choose to adopt realism for this (annoying) occasion when everything else takes place in revenge fantasyland?

Enough is the kind of movie that doesn't need to be seen, because something very much like it will be in theaters in another few months. Packaged deals such as Enough are like frozen dinners - you can always find them but they all taste pretty much the same. Take away Jennifer Lopez's multi-platform popularity, and this movie would have been headed directly to cable. To be frank, that's where it belongs.

Enough (United States, 2002)

Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Christopher Maher, Fred Ward, Noah Wyle, Tessa Allen, Dan Futterman
Screenplay: Nicholas Kazan
Cinematography: Rogier Stoffers
Music: David Arnold
U.S. Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Run Time: 1:55
U.S. Release Date: 2002-05-24
MPAA Rating: "R" (Violence, Profanity, Sexual Content)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1