The Alzheimer Case (aka The Memory of a Killer, 2003) Movie Review

Cop films are cop films regardless of the accents of the cops. Rather it’s Dutch, as in the case of “The Alzheimer Case”, or an American product, you can expect the usual conventions of the genre to surface. To wit: the bureaucratic process that blocks our hero’s progress; a superior that seems more interested in politics than solving crimes; and a veteran cop teamed with a young, brash counterpart. And of course there will be a couple of background Detectives to do all the legwork because, as everyone knows, you can’t have the hero doing grunt work.

“The Alzheimer Case” is an interesting cop movie. It follows the conventions pretty closely, right down to veteran police chief Vincke (Koen De Bouw), a cerebral cop, teamed up with brash Freddy (Werner De Smedt), who likes to shoot first and nevermind the questions. Backing them up is Linda and Coemans. These cops also have an uncooperative superior, as well as a prosecutor who is overly concern with politics. Oh sure, they all speak in a foreign tongue, but it’s still just a cop movie.

Our case involves Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir), a French hitman in his twilight years who has come to the city of Antwerp to commit a couple of murders. After he dispatches his first victim in record time, Ledda finds killing the second target — a 12-year old girl — a little harder; so he balks. Suddenly Ledda becomes a target. After surviving a hit, Ledda decides that the best way to wrap up this slowly decaying life of his (he’s old and dying, and suffering from Alzheimer’s) is to clean up the scum of the city — by killing everyone involved with hiring him.

By a series of coincidence, both Ledda and Vincke come to know a young prostitute whose pimp was also her father. It’s the girl’s association with a high-profile ex-official name Baron de Haeck (Jo De Meyere) that sets the chain of events in motion. As Ledda goes about knocking off the citizens of Antwerp, Vincke and Freddy must stop him. But despite being much older than the two cops, and suffering from spurts of memory loss, Ledda is nevertheless a professional, and runs the two younger men ragged before a wholly unsatisfying third act almost ruins everything.

Despite all of its familiar elements (including the head butting between the local cops and the feds, in this case the national police) “Alzheimer” is nevertheless an engaging cop film. It runs on two tracks: Ledda’s blood vendetta and the cops trying to figure out why bodies are falling all over their fair city. The script doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, but under Erik Van Looy’s more than capable hands, “Alzheimer” moves at breakneck speed for its first two acts. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. The film hits a giant pothole when the third act rears its head, and all life seems to drain from the movie without so much as a warning.

“The Alzheimer Case” has plenty of action, police procedurals, and suspense for fans of the genre. The characters are not entirely well-drawn, especially leads Vincke and Freddy, and we know next to nothing about their personal lives. In fact, it’s not until 90 minutes into the movie that we even know why Vincke lives alone. Fortunately the actors are good enough to sell their characters — at least, on the surface. Although the script hints at a relationship between Freddy and female cop Linda (Hilde De Baerdemaker), this angle is never followed up on. Too bad, because actress Baerdemaker cuts a nice figure, even if her character is essentially nothing more than a background prop.

There’s a lot to like about “Alzheimer”. The action scenes are handled well, and the gunplay is worthy of calling the film an action movie. Looy sometimes go a bit overboard on the camera tricks, using effects that really doesn’t seem necessary. More often than not the film falls on the strong shoulders of Jan Decleir, who is fantastic as the aging hitman. Besides being entertaining, it’s also funny to see old man Ledda outrun, outgun, and outmatch the young bucks chasing him. At one point Ledda even storms a mansion, taking on three heavily armed commandos in the process.

“The Alzheimer Case” is familiar, but that seems to be a given with this genre. There’s only so much one can do with a cop film, and after a while originality goes out the window in favor of conventions. But thanks to some good performances by two affable leads and a strong and convincing turn by Jan Decleir, “Alzheimer” works, even if it does seem to lose its way with 30 minutes to go.

Erik Van Looy (director) / Jef Geeraerts (novel), Carl Joos, Erik Van Looy (screenplay)
CAST: Koen De Bouw …. Vincke
Werner De Smedt …. Freddy
Jan Decleir …. Angelo Ledda
Jo De Meyere …. Baron de Haeck
Hilde De Baerdemaeker …. Linda

Buy The Memory of a Killer on DVD