Anyone laboring under the misconception that American studios have a monopoly on gimmicky action thrillers would be wise to check out the new Memory Of A Killer, which is alternately, and sexily, known as The Alzheimer Case and The Alzheimer Affair. Bela Lugosi look-alike Jan Decleir stars as an accomplished veteran hit man wrestling with an advanced case of Alzheimer's. But before he can go gently into that good night, Decleir stumbles upon a trail of child-prostitute murders with roots leading all the way up to a corrupt baron. An avenging angel, Decleir begins systematically killing his way to the top. But will he be able to crack the case before his faltering memory betrays him? And will the cops who play by their own rules catch Decleir before he can finish his final mission of vengeance?
Memory Of A Killer's premise—whose shameless preposterousness suggests a collaboration between Joe Eszterhas and Adaptation.'s Donald Kaufman—might have worked in the hands of a Luc Besson-esque hyper-stylist with a feel for over-the-top action melodrama, especially if it only ran a brisk 85 minutes or so. Instead, Erik Van Looy's adaptation of Jef Geeraerts' novel lingers for well over two humorless hours, growing more punishing and convoluted with every passing moment. Initially, the film comes off as a poor man's Memento, but it gradually becomes apparent that it's only really interested in its protagonist's Alzheimer's as a cheap plot point to be manipulated or discarded as the filmmakers see fit. By the time a sexy widow pours champagne over her breasts in a subtle bid to seduce a hotshot cop, any pretensions of elevating the film beyond the scuzzy level of a rote action thriller have long been abandoned. As an attempt at a cerebral, existential philosophical thriller, Memory Of A Killer is a tedious, suspense-free failure. As an extended directorial audition proving Van Looy could helm slickly empty American thrillers, however, it does its job all too well.