The latest model in the recent spate of underwhelming female star vehicles, "Enough," a thriller detailing how a good wife gets back at an evil, possessive husband, is never provocative enough to generate strong emotional response. Average pic seems unlikely to advance actor-thrush Jennifer Lopez's assault on the b.o. and music charts.

The latest model in the recent spate of underwhelming female star vehicles, “Enough,” a thriller detailing how a good wife gets back at an evil, possessive husband, is never provocative enough to generate strong emotional response. Utterly average pic seems unlikely to advance actor-thrush Jennifer Lopez’s simultaneous assault on the box office and music charts. Though it will attract a core young-adult female-heavy aud as well as those yearning for a rehash of Julia Roberts starrer “Sleeping With the Enemy,” and will definitely strike deep chords with women who have endured shoddy (or worse) marriages and relationships, drama doesn’t set off sufficient fireworks to create word-of-mouth for durable early summer returns.

More notable than Lopez’s transformation from dutiful wife to martial arts expert is the work of Michael Apted, who keeps pushing the known limits of directorial versatility. With both intriguing docus (the “Up” series, “Me and Isaac Newton”) and Bond pics (“The World Is Not Enough”) under his belt, Apted is able to swing between this workmanlike but always attractive Hollywood star vehicle and the elegant and thoroughly involving WWII drama “Enigma.” Storyline here, care of screenwriter Nicholas Kazan, is divided into several titled sections, beginning with “Hey,” a mini-intro of the close friendship of L.A. diner waitress colleagues Slim (Lopez) and Ginny (Juliette Lewis), followed by “How They Met,” showing the friction-filled encounter between Mitch (Billy Campbell) and Slim, with diner customer Robbie (Noah Wyle) caught somewhere in between. In less than 10 minutes’ running time, Slim and Mitch are married, capped by his weighty vow, “You’re safe with me, Slim.” Kazan inserts further strained foreshadowing in a scene where Mitch, a wealthy developer, impulsively places an offer on a home, adding the unlikely but revealing comment to the seller, “Just think how miserable a crazy person can make you.”

No sooner than you can say plot point, Slim finds out just how miserable Mitch can make her when, a few years after they have a little girl, Gracie (Tessa Allen), she finds out he’s been cheating on her. Mitch might get points for admitting his transgressions, but when his message is essentially “Leave and I’ll kill you,” it’s clear this movie is hidebound to play out everything in black and white. An especially dumb ruse to get away from Mitch only makes matters worse, but Slim and Gracie finally go on the run.

Ensuing hour consists of a transnational pursuit, with Slim hiding out in various states with the help of Ginny, old beau Joe (Dan Futterman), her adopted parent (Christopher Maher) and, most contrived of all, a cocky high-tech magnate named Jupiter (Fred Ward), who Slim insists is her birth father. Mitch’s pursuit of her includes the banal (an obvious cadre of thugs who show up at Joe’s Seattle pad) and a clever twist involving the suddenly reappearing Robbie, who asks the question on everyone’s mind at this point — why Mitch doesn’t just give up the chase; the lame answer only exposes the movie’s spindly foundation.

Apted directs efficiently, trying to look past the script’s legion of problems, and stages moments of genuine suspense. But he can’t help being part of a ruthless storytelling machine designed to get Slim to the point where she must temporarily hand Gracie over to Ginny and go into seclusion, enduring a month of basic training (funded by deep-pocketed Jupiter) with a master of Krav Maga, an Israeli form of martial arts, in order to confront and kill Mitch in his L.A. home — cold, concrete and ultra-mod, suiting every Hollywood villain these days. Final fight is as preordained as it is perfunctory and closes things out on a dissipated note.

Never completely convincing in the role, Lopez seems as dominated by Campbell as Slim is — for most of the tale — by Mitch. Both Campbell and Wyle are playing against their good-guy TV types, and carry things as far as their underwritten characters allow. One hopes this doesn’t portend a series of “best friend” parts for Lewis, who deserves better. Ward, as he habitually does, turns a slim role into a far more complex portrait.

Consummately slick production is graced by Rogier Stoffers’ pro widescreen lensing and an expansive set of locations that pushes the entire project beyond the boundaries of domestic drama.

Enough

Production

A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures presentation of an Irwin Winkler production. Produced by Winkler, Rob Cowan. Executive producer, E. Bennett Walsh. Co-producer, Jeanney Kim. Directed by Michael Apted. Screenplay, Nicholas Kazan.

Crew

Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Rogier Stoffers; editor, Rick Shaine; music, David Arnold; production designer, Doug Kraner; art director, Andrew Menzies; set designer, Suzan Wexler; set decorator, Tracey A. Doyle; costume designer, Shay Cunliffe; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Robert Janiger; supervising sound editor, John A. Larsen; special effects coordinator, Richard L. Thompson; assistant director, Robert Huberman; second unit camera, Simon Crane; casting, Linda Lowy, John Brace. Reviewed at Sony Studios, Culver City, May 3, 2002. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 114 MIN.

With

Slim - Jennifer Lopez Mitch - Billy Campbell Ginny - Juliette Lewis Joe - Dan Futterman Jupiter - Fred Ward Jim Toller - Bill Cobbs Gracie - Tessa Allen Robbie - Noah Wyle Phil - Christopher Maher
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