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  Publicity Stills of "The Flock"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Andrew Lau
Cast: Richard Gere, Claire Danes, Avril Lavigne
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: M18

Opening Day: 17 January 2008


In the vein of suspense thrillers like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and SEVEN, that deal with fringe members of society, THE FLOCK, the first English language film from noted Hong Kong director Andrew Lau (INFERNAL AFFAIRS), follows the story of Errol Babbage, a burned out peace officer who’s being forced out of his job monitoring paroled sex offenders after18 years. Employing an unorthodox style Babbage, anything but a by-the-book agent, has clearly rubbed his superiors the wrong way and in his last weeks on the job is assigned to train a young female replacement. When a teenage girl goes missing Babbage is convinced one of the convicted sexual predators that he monitors is responsible, but no one believes him. Training his young protégé to go beyond the bounds of normal procedure Babbage has the duo delve directly into the sordid world of his depraved FLOCK. The trainee, and the audience, cannot be sure if Babbage is the only agent truly committed to saving the girl or a man who has gone too deep into the abyss he’s been existing on the edge of for years.

Movie Review:

You direct a cop drama trilogy that redefines Hong Kong cinema. A certain award-winning filmmaker named Martin Scorsese decides to give it Hollywood treatment and the adaptation goes on to win heaps of Oscars. A production company approaches you to direct your first Hollywood movie. And why is there still no confirmed release date in the United States for your movie?

Frankly, we are not too sure ourselves why Hong Kong director Andrew Lau’s (Infernal Affairs, Initial D) first Hollywood project isn’t getting much hype in Hollywood. Could it be the dark and shady themes of sex offences the movie touches on? Could it be the lack of financing by the production company for publicity and distribution? Could it be, gasp, that the Americans are not too fond of Lau’s filmmaking style?

The suspense thriller tells the story of an overly watchful federal agent who takes on a case of a missing girl just before he is about to retire. He is certain that the unfortunate incident is connected to a paroled sex offender. Along comes his young understudy whom he takes along for the ride to unravel a series of nerve-cracking and twisted truths.

The world-weary agent is played by Richard Gere (Chicago, Shall We Dance?) with mature affection. The knowledgeable but stubborn character of the experienced cop can be a difficult portrayal, but Gere grasps it well enough to make the audiences empathize with him. And after shining in this year’s Evening and Stardust, Claire Danes takes on the role of the young agent, and makes us even more impressed with her versatility as an actress. Also, watch out for the amusing performance by rock chick Avril Lavigne (Fast Food Nation, Over the Hedge) as a drugged victim of a sex offender. Supporting roles are also aptly played by KaDee Strickland (Fever Pitch) and Ray Wise (Good Night, and Good Luck),

With such a fine cast to work with, how could the movie possibly go wrong?

The sensational subjects of the movie will delight the thrill-seekers, keeping them at the edge of their seats as the protagonists uncover one sick clue after another. Look out for the sequence that takes place in the S/M sex chamber – it will send chills down the spines of the weak-hearted. The twists and turn of the story written by Hans Bauer (Anacondas 2) and Craig Mitchell (Highwaymen) are engaging enough to keep you awake throughout the movie’s 105-minute runtime, though it may seem unfocused at times. The snazzy editing punctuated by quick cuts and grainy insertions remind us of Lau’s own Infernal Affairs trilogy, and flashily stylish approaches like this will probably please the MTV generation.

After listing out all these commendable points of the movie and who they’d appeal to, we still can’t figure out why the film wasn’t able to secure a distributor in the United States. Maybe it’s just the fact that this production wasn’t exactly the smoothest of rides for the filmmakers – we read somewhere director Niels Mueller (The Assassination of Richard Nixon) was called in for re-shoots, and was eventually not credited.

We’d love to find out the reason, but that would be a nosey paparazzo’s job.

Movie Rating:

(A decent thriller that entertains with its suspenseful and shady plot)

Review by John Li


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