The Flock (2007)
Directed by: Wai-keung Lau | 101 minutes | drama, thriller, crime | Actors: Richard Gere, Claire Danes, Ed Ackerman, Dwayne L. Barnes, Josh Berry, Frank Bond, Twink Caplan, Blake Catherwood, Susan Conklin, Erik Davies, Victoria Gallegos, Robert Nathan Gleason, Tom B. Gleason, Chaz Grundy, Johnnie Hector, Dylan Kenin, Avril Lavigne, Ric Maddox, Paul McGowen, Genia Michaela, Roberto Enrique Pineda, Robyn Reede, Russell Sams, Matt Sanford, Paul Scallan, Bailey Ann Scheller, Dylan Scheller, Cyd Schulte, Matt Schulze, Carmen Serano, J Nathan Simmons, Kristina Sisco, KaDee Strickland, Z. Ray Wakeman, Ray Wise
It should have been an exciting event in movie land: Andrew Lau’s first American film production. After all, Lau’s ‘Infernal Affairs’ has already proved perfectly suited for an American approach, as witnessed by Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the interesting infiltration film. Lau continues to operate in the realm of crime with ‘The Flock’, and this time he also wants to explore the dividing line and gray area between good and evil in people, an important aspect of his Hong Kong hit film that was somewhat overshadowed in Scorsese’s adaptation. . Add to that his smooth direction and the reliable actors Richard Gere and Claire Danes, and a successful film seems to be born. Unfortunately, it turns out not to be that simple.
The gray area and the way this is acted by Gere is what makes the film somewhat worthwhile. While his cynical attitude and illegitimate Dirty Harry approach isn’t earth-shattering, these traits do give his character an interesting, edgy edge. It is unfortunate that his behavior is communicated in such a banal and literal way at the beginning and end of the film. “If you look long enough into the abyss, the abyss looks into you.” This clumsily worded tile wisdom is undoubtedly intended to provide depth to the film, but it has an almost opposite effect. It reduces a character to something simple.
Unfortunately, the film itself suffers the same fate. The structure is well known and the elaboration largely uninteresting. There is the old, cynical hand in the business, who is coupled with a young, perhaps somewhat naive colleague, whose characters clash but later naturally grow together. A buddy thriller, so much indebted, both in form and content, to David Fincher’s ‘Se7en’. Gere even retires, like Morgan Freeman in Fincher’s film, and has to train his young colleague during his last few days.
During their search they come into contact with the dark recesses of society, the places where the most perverse and sadistic crimes are committed. It only becomes fascinating when the psyches of Gere’s and Danes’ characters are discussed, but that of the former is well interpreted by the actor, but in the end, as said, it is typified too simply, and that of the latter is only briefly touched upon.
What remains is the thriller story, which is exciting at times but bears too much of the stamp of similar serial killer films, especially the aforementioned ‘Se7en’. Even the final showdown is very reminiscent of this movie. Still disappointing that Lau, a director whose own film was reworked by an American director, now borrows himself so much from his Western colleagues. Fortunately, he has found a competent interpreter of his troubled main character in Gere, but next time would like a fresh and exciting script. American or not.