Fear Factor
Jennifer Lopez Takes On The Evil Husband
By Cole Smithey

If J. Lo can survive P. Diddy and his penchant for pistol play, she can survive anything.

Screenwriter Nicholas Kazan's (At Close Range) Enough is an exploitation script with a compressed social agenda slanted to send lawmakers a message to get on the stick regarding insufficient legislation protecting mates from stalking spouses. At heart the movie is a death wish survival thriller centered on a wife (Jennifer Lopez) attempting to escape her deranged, abusive husband and protect her 6-year-old daughter. Slim's (Lopez) wealthy husband Mitch (Billy Campbell-Bram Stoker's Dracula) uses inside people in power to track the terrified mother and daughter to every city they run to, in a spiteful attempt to manhandle them back into his fold. Director Michael Apted builds the film's suspense to a fever pitch as Slim learns to fight fire with fire to regain her personal freedom.

Following in the footsteps of a psycho-thriller genre that spawned movies like Sleeping With The Enemy, (1991) and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992), Enough employs an unsuspecting female everywoman working as a waitress until a knight-in-shining-bank-account lifts her out of her humble existence through marriage. There's never much doubt that the man has chosen her, rather than the other way around, or that this guy isn't trouble waiting to happen. Billy Campbell has a smarmy countenance as Mitch, that's coincidentally close to actor Jim Caviezel, who also played a suspicious husband in the recent thriller High Crimes opposite Ashley Judd, and who also appeared with Jennifer Lopez in Angel Eyes, another recent film rooted in personal oppression through domestic violence.

Part of the wife's predicament in Enough is that six or seven years of marriage have passed before Mitch's penchant for violence rears its ugly head. Slim intercepts a coded pager message that puts her in touch with Mitch's French mistress. When she confronts Mitch with the fact of his cheating, Mitch insists that it's perfectly normal for him as a man to have a mistress and refuses to let Slim split up his faulty vision of family. Mitch's slaps quickly turn to punches and Slim must rely on the help of her closest friends to help her escape the throes of her gun-toting husband.

A fairly thin subplot involving Slim's wealthy but negligent father Jupiter (admirably played by Fred Ward-Henry and June) eventually provides the precious support that Slim needs to face her unrelentingly vicious husband. But before that can happen Slim's life is turned upside down as she's forced to change her name and appearance while running like a fugitive from the thugs that Mitch sends to terrorize her.

Enough carries a severe but widely accepted message in its theme that, "self defense isn't murder." That Slim turns the tables to lay in wait for her attacker is a somewhat problematic and risky crisis decision. But it resonates well with the film's central idea that Slim has a "profound animal right to defend her life and that of her offspring." There's not a little twisted irony in the fact that the martial art that Slim goes into intensive training for is Krav Maga, a fighting style developed by the Israeli military to give women soldiers an effective means of hand-to-hand combat. How that information impacts the viewer is a highly subjective question unfortunately raised to greater significance due to atrocities being committed by the Israelis and Palestinians against one another.

Director Michael Apted (7 Up, and Nell) builds the film's ever-increasing tautness of suspense with acute attention to balancing plot dynamics with the lucid performances of his actors. Jennifer Lopez (Out of Sight) continues to forge a credible film acting career with a control and range that is disarmingly sweet and determined. Enough is about vulnerability and the force of will to take control of oppression, put it on a level playing field, and let the cards fall where they will through physical battle. As idealistic and predictable as that paradigm may be, the film is edifying within the thrill of its intensely suspenseful ride.