The Memory of a Killer
dir. Van Looy
Opens Fri Sept 16
Watching The Memory of a Killer is like reading a spy novel written during the Cold War: The plot, driven by a fascination with back-room dealings and bureaucratic corruption, has the quaint chess-game sensibility of a Le Carré paperback. Throw in a protagonist with Alzheimer's Disease, and you have a thriller with a distinctly geriatric appeal.
Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir) is an aging assassin in Belgium who abruptly throws down his gun when he's asked to kill a 12-year-old-girl just rescued from a child prostitution ring. When the girl winds up dead anyway, Ledda embarks upon a vigilante campaign to destroy those responsible for her death. He discovers that her assassination was part of a cover-up involving an influential baron and his pedophile son, but Ledda's attempts to bring justice are hindered by an advancing case of Alzheimer's disease, which results in nightmares and weird flashbacks. Yet he still manages to kill several low-level participants in the conspiracy, attracting the attention of local police officers. Because members of the force are involved in the cover-up, the investigation is left to a detective squad headed by hottie Detective Vincke (Koen De Bouw). Vinke and Ledda play cat-and-mouse games, as Ledda leaves a trail of bodies and clues that slowly reveal to Vinke the scope of the conspiracy.
While the script's fascination with bureaucratic infighting might reflect the concerns of Belgian society, it hardly resonates as a contemporary police thriller. Most of the film is spent watching Vinke try to figure out what Ledda, and the audience, already know: The identity of the killers. Little dramatic tension is wrung from the topic of Ledda's senility; while the idea of an assassin with Alzheimer's was probably intended to heighten the urgency of the film, I was more worried that Ledda was taking his pills regularly. I wouldn't call The Memory of A Killer boring, exactly, but as far as conspiracy films go, it's about as thrilling as a glass of warm milk.