There is a rumour floating around IMDB that they're planning to do an American version of this; casting speculation runs rampant, mostly along the lines of people who are way too young for the lead role. So far, however, it seems to be just rumours. A click on "movie connections" brings up an upcoming (2009) sequel, as well as several movies referenced in it, but no American version. The sequel, in fact, is also Belgian and features the same two actors playing the lead detectives. I can deal with it, though I may or may not ever end up actually seeing it; I don't tend to go out looking for sequels, which I would probably have to do in order to see it, since I Netlfixed this one. (And the sequel's called [i]Dossier K[/i], which means we've already passed it anyway.) Still, it looks as though we're going to be escaping the ignominy of a tired Hollywood remake for now.
Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir) is attempting to be a retired hitman, but his employers do not believe there is any such thing. Clearly, he has not told them that he is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. (Indeed, the Belgian title is [i]De Zaak Alzheimer[/i], or [i]The Alzheimer's Case[/i]. Or possibly [i]Affair[/i]. IMDB does not specify which is the direct translation.) He is sent to Antwerp to perform a hit on Bob Van Camp (Lucas van den Eijnde), a civil engineer of some sort. Before Ledda kills him, he takes something out of Van Camp's safe. Ledda is also sent to perform a job on Bieke Cuypers (Laurien Van den Broeck), which he refuses to do, as Bieke is twelve. We learned, before we encountered Ledda, that Bieke was part of a child prostitution setup; her father and pimp, listed as "Vader Cuypers" (Dirk Roofthooft)--though I happen to know that "Vader" means "father"--pretty much commited suicide by cop in front of her. When Ledda finds out that someone else has killed Bieke, he decides to track down all those repsonsible for her death; there's also the little detail that they've tried to kill him as well.
This is not a crime thriller as a lot of Americans see the term. It's a psychological drama, not a shoot-em-up. It's a police procedural, but I think it's much closer to the roots of true noir. There's no [i]femme fatale[/i], but there is certainly no one you can trust, as we find out as the movie progresses. It is at least closer to the classic noir of the '40s than most modern police dramas. There is but one real gun battle. There are no car chases. There's a fairly high body count as Ledda goes up against those who would see him dead, but the twist isn't really a violent one, even though it would, if things go as planned, lead to Ledda's death.
But then, we know that Ledda is dying anyway. He has visited his brother, Paolo (Roland De Jonghe), in the hospital, and Paolo is much worse off than he. We find out eventually that Ledda's own childhood was not fun, though we can't know for sure if it was as bad or worse as poor, doomed Bieke. At any rate, he clearly feels himself to be her avenging angel, and it is as such that we should be viewing him. Indeed, unlike most movies that feature aging or otherwise retiring hitmen--see also [i]Grosse Point Blank[/i]--we don't see any of his old jobs. We see him in happy intended-retirement in Marseilles. One rather wonders if they would have sent him anyway if they'd known.
Let us be clear. This is not a conventional mystery. After all, we know who did it right away, except in one case, and we learn who did it in that one awfully quickly. What we are learning is who hired him and why. It is the why, more than the who, that draws us in; we learn the who pretty quickly and easily. There is something, we know, in that safe at the Van Camps', and that something is what is driving Anton Ledda. The point of the game is to find that something and who is linked to it. Lead detective Eric Vincke (Koen De Bouw) and his partner, Freddy Verstuyft (Werner De Smedt) are playing along with us; Vincke saves Ledda's life in order to acquire more of the information. It is, in fact, Vincke and Verstuyft who will be driving the sequel; that alone makes me think I might go looking for it.