Tattoo

SE7EN-style gloom and doom, combined with derivative plot twists and a singularly icky modus operandi make for a familiar-feeling but sleazily entertaining German procedural that pits mismatched cops against a sadistic uber-killer. Newly graduated police cadet Marc Schrader (August Diehl) spends his downtime getting high at the illegal raves where his girlfriend...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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SE7EN-style gloom and doom, combined with derivative plot twists and a singularly icky modus operandi make for a familiar-feeling but sleazily entertaining German procedural that pits mismatched cops against a sadistic uber-killer. Newly graduated police cadet Marc Schrader (August Diehl) spends his downtime getting high at the illegal raves where his girlfriend (Ilknur Bahadir) DJs and doesn't care who knows he intends to spend his working hours doing as little as humanly possible. But veteran Inspector "Killer" Minks (Christian Redl) has other plans for the uniformed slacker. Minks, who's tormented by the disappearance of his teenaged daughter and is rumored to have murdered the hit-and-run driver who mowed down his wife, is working the case of a serial slayer who targets alienated hipsters and skins the elaborate tattoos right off their bodies. Minks thinks Schrader could help him infiltrate the victims' milieu, where the killer may have carelessly left a clue. When Schrader is slow to volunteer, Minks resorts to blackmail — he can always order an in-office drug test that would end Schrader's career. The bizarre trail they uncover leads to ink-master Hiromitsu, a tattoo artist who completed only 12 masterful pieces of skin art before committing suicide, and an illicit, Web-based network of tattoo collectors who buy unusual tattoos. Some of them are apparently not too particular about how their objets d'art are obtained. Icy gallery owner Maya Kroner (Nadeshda Brennicke) has a full-body Hiromitsu, which makes her perfect bait with which to lure the killer into a trap, but can the cops in good conscience put her in harm's way? Writer-director Robert Schwentke's feature film debut fairly oozes the kind of sheer nastiness that keeps fans of serial killer pictures coming back for more. The opening scene, a creepy grabber in which a nude woman jogs painfully down a dark road, her back a livid strip of raw flesh, evokes KISS ME DEADLY's (1955) pulp eeriness and ends with a grisly flourish all its own. Minks's receipt of a gruesome delivery in a box will surprise no one who's seen SEVEN (1995), and buttoned-up Hitchcock-blonde Brennicke owes so much to BASIC INSTINCT (1992) that you want to shake Schrader and Minks for not wondering sooner why she keeps turning up like a bad penny. But no matter: Overall this is an assured piece of genre filmmaking that delivers the goods so stylishly it hardly matters that they aren't fresh. (In German with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: SE7EN-style gloom and doom, combined with derivative plot twists and a singularly icky modus operandi make for a familiar-feeling but sleazily entertaining German procedural that pits mismatched cops against a sadistic uber-killer. Newly graduated police c… (more)

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