"For guys like us there is no retirement" is a line that could have been pulled from any number of crime movies in which an aging hit man who's trying to bow out of the biz is pulled back in for one last job. That time is against him is always a given, but the race against the clock in this derivative but engaging thriller from Belgium is doubly desperate: Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir), a French assassin, is not only getting too old for the job, he's suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Ledda is hired to fly to Antwerp and dispose of Bob Van Camp (Lucas Van den Eynde), the city's recently appointed general town planning manager. More importantly, Ledda is to steal the sealed contents of Van Camp's safe. Despite Ledda's incipient memory loss, the job goes off without a hitch, but he balks when his Belgian contact (Gene Bervoets) offers him a second target: Bieke Cuypers (Laurien Van den Broek), a 12-year-old child prostitute who was recently rescued from the clutches of her pimping father by the judiciary department's deputy chief inspector Eric Vincke (Koen De Bouw). Ledda refuses to kill a child, and when her corpse is found floating in the river Scheldt, shot in exactly the same manner as Van Camp, Ledda realizes he's being framed and vows to find Bieke's killer. The similarities between the two murders mean that DCI Vincke is assigned to both cases, and even though his gut tells him they weren't committed by the same assassin, he also knows the killings are somehow connected. When the son of aristocratic government minister Baron de Haeck (Jo De Meyere) is later found dead in his apartment, Vincke's investigation takes him inside the hermetically sealed world of Antwerp's power elite, but he finds that he's always one step behind Ledda, whose memory has begun to fail him. While the details of the rivalry between Antwerp's judiciary and gendarmerie will probably be lost on anyone unfamiliar with the Belgian justice system, the film's basic themes are universal and can in fact be found in movies as old as LE SAMOURAI (1997) and as au courant as MEMENTO (2001) and FRANK MILLER'S SIN CITY (2005). Both De Bouw and Decleir, however, are superb, and while director Erik Van Looy (the man behind the original, European incarnation of the TV show The Mole) doesn't take full advantage of the potential pathos inherent in the Alzheimer's conceit, Ledda's deteriorating mental condition is beautifully realized through fragmented montages that propel the action forward but, like the disease itself, increasingly elide more than they explain.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: "For guys like us there is no retirement" is a line that could have been pulled from any number of crime movies in which an aging hit man who's trying to bow out of the biz is pulled back in for one last job. That time is against him is always a given, but… (more)