The Alzheimer Case (De Zaak Alzheimer) (Belgium, director Erik Van Looy): Although based on a novel, this stylish police thriller’s main conceit (”hitman has Alzheimer’s”) could have been lifted from a Hollywood film executive’s idea of “high concept”. Except that it would have made a forgettable Hollywood picture. Instead, director Van Looy sets this story in his native Belgium. Police detectives Vincke and Verstuyft are like a modern day Starsky and Hutch, without the bad haircuts. Who knew that Antwerp even had police, never mind such cool ones? Their job is to track down the man who’s killed several high-profile politicians and a young child prostitute.
Reminding me a lot of Terence Stamp in The Limey, veteran actor Jan Decleir portrays aging hitman Angelo Ledda, whose refusal to kill the young girl leads him to seek revenge on the people who want her dead. His deterioration is a cause for sympathy as well as a plot device. He must complete his “mission” before he forgets his reasons for carrying it out. He also plays a cat and mouse game with the police who are trying to solve the killings, staying one step ahead until he can no longer think clearly.
Van Looy admitted his fondness for “police thrillers with a soul” and especially for the work of Michael Mann, and the influence of Mann is everywhere. If you like Mann, you’ll like this film. Well-developed characters, moody cinematography and fine acting didn’t completely save this film, though. I thought the plot was a little too straightforward, and the film itself was about 20 minutes too long, with a couple of false endings that could have been re-cut. I think I would have given a shorter version of this film an 8, but even if it was a slightly derivative cop film, it was a slightly derivative cop film in Flemish!
Note: The film eventually got a North American release under the new title The Memory of a Killer so you may want to look for it under that title at your local DVD shop.
Official site of the film: ms.skynet.be/alzheimer