We live in the twilight of film genres, and our cinematic hit men have aged with us. The Memory of a Killer, by Belgian director Erik Van Looy, stars veteran actor Jan Declair as Angelo Ledda, a Melville-style assassin who, 50 years down the road, is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s. Based in Marseilles, Ledda travels back to his native Antwerp (a city he loathes) on assignment; though still a capable assassin, he has trouble remembering his hotel room number. But the job stirs up past demons and soon spins out of control.
Flemish hunk Koen De Bouw plays a detective who stumbles across Ledda’s clues while investigating a series of murders; policeman and killer are drawn to each other like two halves of a single equation. Their long, teasing tango provides the one love story. With a debt to Christopher Nolan’s
Memento (and with recent Belgian political and pedophilic scandals in the background), Van Looy has created a fast-paced and stylish thriller. Declair’s Ledda, marvelously suave and vulnerable, provides most of the pathos. But once his character’s motives are revealed, the story’s latter half feels mechanically worked out.