I was constantly on edge worried about some of these characters. The cinematography is deeply noirish & arresting. The script & the perspective of the direction leaves a great deal out of the story so that there are moments of confusion, & many threads of the story are never followed through or resolved. But usually the missing parts of the tale are obvious if pondered for a moment, & it definitely seemed intentional to never spell out what should be obvious.
I was initially interested in this film because it features Charlotte Rampling, a great actress who has had too few great roles in her long career but always brings something great to whatever she does. That happens here, too, a role in many ways marginal to the tale, but she provides amazing moments.
Malcolm McDowell has gotten so predictable in his too-numerous villain roles, but this role, small in screen time, big in story significance, contains a bit more complexity than he usually conveys.
Clive Owens carries the show, & comes off as the "good samurai" (or good yakuza at least) who is tired of killing & strives for a better path, but fate & deep sadness won't permit peace. Owens reminds me of the young Mel Gibson of Gallipoli (1981) who seemed in those days a much better actor than he turned out to be; Owens has Gibson's charismatic presence plus he seems really to be a fine actor. Perhaps an even better comparison would've been a young James Caan, who can still act, & we can only hope Owens never loses it either.
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