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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 24, 2002

Jennifer Lopez does a Charles Bronson in 'Enough'

By Marshall Fine
The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News

ENOUGH (Rated PG-13 for graphic violence, profanity, adult themes). Two and One-Half Stars (Fair-to-Good)

A woman tries to leave her abusive husband but finds that he is tracking her across the country — so she learns to defend herself against his attacks in this manipulative thriller. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Bill Campbell. Directed by Michael Apted. Columbia Pictures, 112 minutes.

"Enough" wants you to believe that it's a thriller about spousal abuse, but the overlay of social themes is only there as window dressing.

In fact, "Enough" is an old-fashioned revenge thriller. You've got your bully and your victim who, after living in fear, finally decides to fight back. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

As written by Nicholas Kazan and directed by Michael Apted, "Enough" has enough suspense for maximum thrills. And, to its credit, "Enough" doesn't get soap-boxy about its subject. (For a more realistic view of the topic, check out Frederick Wiseman's documentary, "Domestic Violence.")

Still, this is the kind of material that can quickly veer from the horrifying to the unintentionally funny. The farther out on the plot limb "Enough" climbs, the shakier its footing, until it reaches that moment when Jennifer Lopez decides to become Charles Bronson.

Lopez plays Slim, a waitress with an unlikely nickname who is swept up one day by the romantic advances of a customer, a building contractor named Mitch (Bill Campbell). He seems like the perfect catch: rich, attentive and handsome.

But five years into the marriage (the time is marked by the appearance of a 5-year-old daughter), she catches him fooling around with another woman. He tries to appease her but when she loses her temper, Mitch smacks her — then punches her for good measure.

Then he spells it out to her: He wants Slim but he wants other women. If she tries to leave or call the police, he'll make sure she never sees their daughter. One other thing: He doesn't want Slim to leave — and if she tries, he'll find her and beat her again.

With the aid of friends, Slim finds a way to take her daughter and bolt in the middle of the night. She quickly discovers, however, that Mitch has a long reach; she no sooner arrives at the apartment of a friend in Seattle than strange men are banging on the door, searching for her.

So she takes her daughter and, using cash (to avoid credit-card traces), she heads to Michigan. She changes her name, gets a job, cuts her hair short and starts over. In short order, however, she discovers that Mitch has once again tracked her down.

Looking for legal help, she is told instead that, because she never reported his violent attacks, she has no real case against him. And because he has initiated child-custody proceedings, she has to return to California and face him — at which time he will probably kill her.

So she does what any self-respecting movie character would do: She ditches Mitch once more, hides her child with friends and goes into intense martial-arts training to learn how to kill with her bare hands. When the final smackdown comes, she wants to be the one doing the smacking.

And, certainly, the big fight will play well with the audience. When Lopez delivers the first blow to Campbell's chin, the woman sitting behind me at a screening whooped loudly and said, "That's what I'm talking 'bout."

To get there, however, requires wading through any number of filler scenes, intended to establish Slim as a woman who just wants her life back the way it was. These include a lengthy monologue with Slim explaining herself to her sleeping daughter, when no explanation is really necessary.

Lopez is fine as a woman trying to cope with extreme changes to her situation; she captures the confusion and pain, but also the determination to extricate herself. Campbell is exactly right as the passive-aggressive jerk with the violent streak. Fred Ward, who pops up as Slim's long-lost father, deserves better.

"Enough" builds to an inevitable conclusion and takes its sweet time getting there. About the best you can say for it is that it's competently manipulative and not nearly as bad as some of the movies out there.

Rated PG-13 (graphic violence, profanity, adult themes).