Late one night, in a nearly deserted New York City subway station, Isabel (Ana de Armas) has a mysterious encounter with a luminous being who floats over the tracks, a creature the very religious woman takes to be an angel. The next morning, a cop is found brutally murdered on that very same spot at the station, and his partner, NYPD detective Galban (Keanu Reeves: John Wick, 47 Ronin), takes up the investigation. Isabel’s life unfolds from here as a sort of dreamy, magic-realism domestic drama: she lives with her in-laws while her soldier husband is deployed in Iraq, works as a teacher of young children (including one who seems especially troubled in her home life), and continues having visions of otherworldy beings. Galban’s life is like an unintentional parody of a gritty cop thriller, complete with a lieutenant (Christopher McDonald: Believe Me, An American Carol) who warns him away from looking too closely at what his dead partner was up to, and the partner’s widow (Mira Sovino: Do You Believe?, Reservation Road) drawing him into what will be the most embarrassingly terrible seduction scene ever committed to celluloid.
To call it all disjointed is an understatement of vast proportions: Exposed is unintelligible. It feels like two completely different movies inelegantly Frankensteined together… which is almost the literal truth: this was originally a film called Daughter of God (which makes more sense than Exposed, which has nothing to do with what happens onscreen), but Lionsgate completely re-edited it to reduce Isabel’s story and plump up Galban’s to such a degree that director Gee Malik Linton took his name off it (though he still gets a screenplay credit). I suspect even more was done: someone had to have shot new footage for what ended up as the final version of the movie, because the two sides of the film feel so completely different.
It gets worse. A plot that feels incoherently random suddenly turns actively offensive by the end, when, in wrapping together these two story threads that appear so much at odds, it trivializes horrible crimes and turns the methods that people use to cope with them into the stuff of cheap suspense. The massively insulting miscalculation that is this film is encapsulated in the taglines that have been used in its marketing: “Some secrets are better left buried” in the U.S., and “Some cases are better left unsolved” in the U.K. But what is going on in this story is the very opposite of that: it is absolutely about things that must be brought into the light of day. If it is about anything at all, it is about evils that thrive because people keep them buried.
Not that the movie itself seems to realize that it might have any such notion at its heart. It doesn’t seem to have much of much of anything to say at all. And it is saying nothing in the most appalling ways imaginable.