Monday, August 09, 2010

"The Memory of a Killer" (Language - Dutch) (2003) - Movie Review

“The Memory of a Killer” is the thriller you have seen but not with Jan Decleir in it. He does not do an extraordinary work or he makes it so easy on our eyes. A dying killer is not a good sign for any one because he has one more reason to go on his spree with his nothing to lose attitude. Jan Decleir’s Angelo Ledda is succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease and his change of mind in this case should have been more than a contract to kill a kid but it is never explained. We do not worry or carry that burden as Ledda carries it for us in his tiring eyes and dissipating brain.

While Alzheimer becomes the primary action for his change in life, it never really takes it full effect. Director Erik Van Looy worked on a tag line than a plot line. Nevertheless “The Memory of a Killer” moves as it has always in the cat and mouse thriller game and with a strange empathy towards the killer with no past. Retirement is not an option and age has only made him sensitive than the other way around his job demands.

The trick in the film is to escape those logics of his final redemption. He goes for a job in Antwerp and gets handed two assignments. One he successfully completes with some fragments of incompletion within his mind while the other he comes close to realize that he has to kill a child. To people who are not aware of the code the movie contract killers have is that they have a soft spot for kids. Our Angelo is no different and he takes it personally when someone else does the job he refused. He begins the vengeance.

There has to be a police as crime is still punishable by law. Vincke (Koen De Bouw) is the young man with empty house and slaughtered innocence from his job. The young girl Angelo missed and later completed by his employer is the one Vincke rescued from the claws of a sick father using her for prostitution. Vincke needs assurance and sanity for continuing his job though Koen De Bouw is super fresh and does not carry the ghosts with him. A single look at Jan Decleir and we do not want to know his past as it is written with burned bones in his grey hairs and sweaty face.

The attire Angelo chooses has something to say. He is aging but with style. He is sloppy in his works but he is a gamer lost interest in the game. A joking but perfect analogy is me driving the wrong way in a racing game because I am tired of it. Angelo does not go mad like that but approaches it methodically. His definition of crooks are really low level sick people and that is final deed to the dreadful life he has led. He is consumed by it and begins the hunt.

“The Memory of a Killer” offers little suspense and you do not complain. In Decleir’s performance there is not alone a presence but the simplicity of the killer he wants to be. All his jobs have been without background and he gets to go on a rampage of his choice in his magnum opus. He is a sociopath of a different kind. The goodness in his deepest heart are good for the audience but clinical for Vincke. Vincke has a smart and sharpshooter right hand man Verstuyft (Werner De Smedt). He is focussed with a blind dedication to the job as if a younger version of Decleir. But the film analyzes the similarities in Vincke and Angelo.

When there are two leads in a film, there needs a balance or more than that is a match. Vincke as a character and Koen De Bouw as an actor are no equal to Angelo the character and Jan Decleir the actor. They are not the same and they are not the difference we wish to analyze. They are simply two characters with one very strongly influencing its audience.

Still there is classic text book storytelling in this film. It is simple and does not boast of having a great one. It calmly dictates it and leaves the rest to its casts. Rest is bullets, blood and bodies. The culprits meet their fate and so does Angelo. There is a victory for the good as it should and we leave with a content heart. What it associates the memory of a killer is not the striking blow rather the killer being made into a slightly sympathetic character with no explanation other than his zest for killing the well defined bad guys makes us to be him for the period of film. That memory sticks.

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