Lifetime Films’ “Lila & Eve” is a standard-issue female vigilante thriller that’s skillfully elevated by the performances of leads Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez.
Frustrated over the justice system’s handling of the fatal drive-by shooting of her eldest son, single Atlanta mom Lila (Davis) proceeds to take the law into her own hands with the encouragement of the street-smart Eve (Lopez), whom she meets in a grieving mother support group.
Tough, brittle Lila’s refusal to stoically accept the things she cannot change takes her down an increasingly violent path, but the ever-rooted Davis, who could breathe three-dimensional life into a stick figure, draws us in even as the film’s plot grows considerably less convincing.
As for Lopez, after an extended string of lackluster movie roles, her decidedly darker-around-the-edges turn here serves as a welcome reminder of the diva’s more rewarding, pre-JLo-era, big-screen output.
As directed by Charles Stone III, Davis and Lopez inhabit the sort of throwback characters that were once the domain of Ashley Judd and Jodie Foster, making “Lila & Eve” an unapologetic guilty pleasure.
“Lila & Eve.”
MPAA rating: R for violence, language.
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena.