A big-city cop from L.A. moves to a small-town police force and immediately finds himself investigating a murder. Using theories rejected by his colleagues, the cop, John Berlin, meets a young blind woman named Helena, who he is attracted to. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose and only John knows it.
Right off the bat I will admit crime dramas are not my cup of tea. I can’t stomach all the iterations of CSI, NYPD, NCIS, OCD, OPP (Yeah you know me), etc and can’t comprehend how so many get made, aired and watched continuously. Needless to say, I wasn’t over the moon when I saw Jennifer 8 in my review list, but in my aging, er… age, my strict tastes, much like the collagen in my skin, has slackened over the years and I can sometimes be pleasantly surprised by films outside my typical scope. Unfortunately Jennifer 8, much like my last prostate exam, wasn’t pleasantly surprising…
John Berlin (Andy Garcia) is a gifted former big city detective now working in a small town precinct with his old buddy, Freddy (Lance Henriksen). With his ass barely touching the seat at his new detectiving digs, John finds a severed hand in a dump. Quicker than you can say “Holy, forced scriptwork, Batman”, John figures out the hand, which has worn out fingerprints at the tips, belongs to a blind person, all thanks to a traffic light’s “walk” beep > The tips were worn out from braille.
John discovers a cold case labelled “Jennifer”, a sore spot for the entire precinct, fits the severed hand he found like a glove (wordsmithery for the win!) He interviews Helena (Uma Therman), the friend of one of the victims, to see if he can warm up the case. Helena, who happens to be blind and suffers from the blandest personality this side of blandsville, makes John’s heart strings twang, and he takes a special interest in her. This conveniently causes a flurry of events to occur that puts Helena’s life in jeopardy, as well as that of his own, Freddy’s and Freddy’s wife (Kathy Baker).
With John’s investigation going through the motions, his relationship with Helena developing, some red herrings and forced twists thrown in for no good measure, Jennifer 8 culminates into a pretty lackluster climax that enforces the forgettable nature of this film.
Acting, as expected given the talent involved, was exceptional. I personally don’t understand why Helena had to be portrayed with such little emotion or character, but Uma portrayed this lack of well. However, this, to me, really hurt the script as Helena was a principal character. When a principal character is as un-engaging as Helena was, the viewer doesn’t care what happens to them, and in essence, the film.
The whole film was gloomy and dull in its coloring and atmosphere. A good fit for the tone and genre, but made the wise-cracking between John and Freddy feel ill-fitting.
The story itself, as I already mentioned, was forgettable. Slow burning and devoid of any real relatable characters, I just could not become engaged with Jennifer 8. The red herrings thrown at me didn’t work as well (on me) as what I think was intended, and some of the dialog felt out of sync with the genre, tone and (sometimes) the characters who spoke them. The twist at the end was really forced and induced a groan from yours truly, it also didn’t let our hero “finish it”, so to speak, so Jennifer 8 felt incomplete even when the end credits rolled.
Would I watch this again? I can’t see myself willingly watching this in the remainder of my lifetime, on purpose or by accident. The slowness, lack of any real likeable characters, weak twists and red herrings just can’t conure re-watch from me.
Should you watch this? There are much better attempts out there so I can’t really recommend Jennifer 8 to those who enjoy a good crime drama/thriller. If you would like to see Andy Garcia doing his best impression of a screaming Al Pacino, then maybe this might hold some play value.
2 out of 5 emotionless Uma’s