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The Memory of a Killer (5/10)

by Tony Medley

The worst thing that can happen to a thriller is lack of pace. There are lots of them out there that bore you to death. This starts out pretty fast, but eventually we find ourselves involved in one of the longer shootouts in a house that seems to last all year.

Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir) is an aging assassin who is in the first stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. His client, Baron Gustave de Haeck (Jo De Meyere) puts a contract on Bob Van Camp (Lucas Van den Eynde). This is where the film starts to lose credibility. Angelo dispatches Van Camp, but Van Camp’s young daughter almost walks in on him. She doesn’t and survives. Then he refuses a contract on a young teenaged girl because he “doesn’t kill children.” When she’s killed anyway he gets mad and goes on a revenge kick against his employer.

Let’s face it, folks, assassins are sociopaths. You can’t kill people under contract and have a conscience or any feelings for humanity. Ledda is reminiscent of the character Joubert, played by Max von Sydow, in “Three Days of the Condor” (1975), who was pictured as a compassionate person. Killers are killers. They kill regardless of age or sex. Ledda’s refusal is as unlikely as his pilgrimage of revenge against the Baron.

Ledda is being chased by two cops, Eric Vincke (Koen De Bouw) and Freddy Verstuyft (Werner De Smedt), who run afoul of Major De Keyzer (Jilip Peeters), of another jurisdiction who doesn’t want to cooperate. The characters of Vincke and Verstuyft are not adequately developed. They are basically papier mâché characters with about as much relevance to the story as Rosenkranz and Guildenstern were to Hamlet. Ledda does pretty much as he pleases and Vincke and Verstuyft have virtually no effect on him.

Eventually Ledda, armed with an automatic weapon, finds himself in the Baron’s house with what seems like an army, armed with automatic weapons chasing him. This is where the film really loses it. These searches of the Baron’s house, Ledda’s for the Baron and the police for Ledda, go on for at least 15 minutes (I only started timing it several minutes after it started when I saw it might not end before Jay Leno gives up the Tonight Show). Worse, it has everyone shooting their guns at each other, hitting nothing but the house. For those who haven’t walked out and are still awake when this seemingly interminable, tiresome section of the film ends, the silly climax is thankfully near.

This is slow, boring, and has no correlation to real life. It minimizes the value of life and pictures an evil sociopath in such a far-fetched, romantic, unrealistic manner that it’s nothing more than a cartoon rather than the thriller to which it aspires. In Dutch with subtitles.

August 23, 2005