De Zaak Alzheimer – The Memory of a Killer (2003)

Plot: A career criminal struggles to perform an act of street justice as he loses control of his faculties in this thriller from Belgium. Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir) is a veteran hitman who has spent most of his life as a hired killer. Ledda decides to get out of the business when he finds he’s losing his memory due to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but he’s been offered a lucrative final assignment that involves murdering two people.

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Angelo initially says yes to the job, until he finds out one of his targets will be a 13-year-old girl; it goes against Angelo’s principles to kill a child, and he decides not to take the assignment. However, Angelo quickly discovers his customers found another hitman with no such scruples. Ledda gets angry and now seeks vengeance against this hitman who would kill a young girl. As he shoots his way through the chain of command that led to the murder, he makes a shocking discovery that the crime is tied to a group of powerful figures in business and politics. As Angelo struggles against his failing memory to find out who is behind this heinous order to kill a young girl(and why), a pair of police detectives, Vincke (Koen de Bouw) and Verstuyft (Jan Decleir), are hot on his trail, trying to find the link between all the murders. The Memory of a Killer as initially screened in Belgium as De Zaak Alzheimer, or The Alzheimer Case.


What we liked about this story :

It had an unusual plot where the hero, Ledda, was firstly (a) an old man, and (b) about to deteriorate into becoming a victim of Alzheimers disease. He fights this disease by leaving small notes to himself – like reminders on what’s happening around him. Ledda shows allegiance only to his own code of behavior. He is an assassin who may kill a few innocent people along the way, but we know that, deep inside, he harbors a terrible sense of justice. This movie is in the genre of anti-heros such as, Bogart in Casablanca and Eastwood in his spaghetti Westerns. The notion of Ledda’s encroaching Alzheimer’s disease slowly gets stretched to the limits and we don’t see signs of it much until it becomes a serious threat to his work, or during a crucial life-or-death moment.. and that’s the exciting part – where you’re biting your nails from the tension. There is one touching scene where Ledda goes to see his brother who has a more advanced stage of the same Alzheimer’s disease. It is  a prelude to what Ledda will become. You can see the determination in Ledda’s face to fight the disease for as long as he can.

The entire movie winds through the series of murders in which the cops are always a few minutes behind Ledda. And as is common in these sorts of films, an understanding develops between the cop and his quarry. The twists and turns make The Memory of a Killer intriguing to watch for its entire two hours, and director Van Looy employs lots of cool visual techniques that helped keep our attention throughout the entire movie. Winner of multiple Belgian awards and a box-office hit at home, this movie is tightly wound and expertly unraveled, resulting in a thriller that you’ll definitely remember. This film is in Dutch, with English subtitles.



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