Steeped in thriller cliches, this risk-taking morality tale neglects narrative drive in favor of exploring its protagonist's psychological redemption. French expatriate Xavier Lombard (Daniel Auteuil) ekes out a living as a private eye in London. Out of the blue, a former police associate, Carlos (Ciaran Hinds), contacts him to locate about a case. Unlike Lombard, Carlos has traded in cop work for better things, namely marriage to socialite Deborah Spitz (Nastassja Kinski) and entree to her father's lucrative leather goods company. Carlos' wealthy, ne'er-do-well brother-in-law, Leon, is missing. He's also a recovering heroin addict who's disappeared before, so Lombard regards the assignment as a routine gig. But for a worried sister, Deborah behaves contentiously, and the entire Spitz family seems unduly concerned about their reputation. After a child pornography video surfaces, Lombard begins to suspect that Leon was involved in some very shady things. But when he tracks down Leon's girlfriend, Emily (Katrin Cartlidge), Lombard learns that Leon entrusted a traumatized boy to her. Endangering the life of his hooker pal, Nathalie (Marianne Dennicourt), Lombard plunges into the netherworld of pedophilia. Posing as a potential client, Lombard rescues another lad, entrusts the boy to Emily's care, and makes a bitter enemy of Friedman (Bruce Greenwood), the mastermind behind the child sex ring. Pumped up with outrage, Lombard travels to Mexico, where he tries to destroy Friedman's under-age prostitution racket. But who are Friedman's co-conspirators, and can Lombard handle the truth when he finally uncovers it?
The carefully calibrated screenplay by Mark Mills, Eric Leclere and Margaret Leclere details the way in which Lombard confronts evil in order to reclaim his own humanity. As a character study, the film benefits from Auteuil's persuasive performance, but it doesn't really work as a suspense thriller, sacrificing excitement for reiteration of its themes.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: R
- Review: Steeped in thriller cliches, this risk-taking morality tale neglects narrative drive in favor of exploring its protagonist's psychological redemption. French expatriate Xavier Lombard (Daniel Auteuil) ekes out a living as a private eye in London. Out of th… (more)