It's taken an unseemly number of executive producersâ€”10 to be exactâ€”to secure the financing (budget: $35 million) required to bring you a film with a former movie star, and still marquee name, Richard Gere, that you've never heard of. Not knowing of a movie by the time it shows up on DVD (in this case, 6 months) doesn't necessarily preclude it from being good or badâ€”or in this case, deadened.
Gere is Erroll Babbage, an 18-year-veteran Department of Public Safety officer in an unnamed city that tracks the movements of sex offenders on his case-load registry. But these aren't your Grandma's sexual predators. These guys and gals are violent, depraved, and fatalistic. They've gone post-modern in satisfying their insatiable cravings with the use of asphyxiation, saws, and fan clubs. They're mechanically inclined, and organized.
For the wearied Babbage, there seems to be a light at the end of this dank tunnel; not so for the viewer. The silver-headed old hand has only 18 days left on his suffocating job. Problem is, he isn't keen about leavingâ€”his boss Stiles (Ray Wise) calls it a retirement, but truth is that Babbage is being let go. An even bigger problem is one that the movie never explains, why?
With his time winding down, the loose-cannon Babbage has to train his replacementâ€”city government allowing terminated employees to train their replacementsâ€”Allison Lowry (Claire Danes). As Babbage and Lowry go about checking up on his â"registrants," a young girl is abducted. The impulsive pro suspects one of his offending flock are involved.
Plot wheels lazily in motionâ€”but by no means in Gereâ€”the so-called public servants make their way from one sexual offender haven and hideout to another. Each locale like an ever challenging series of amusement park roller-coaster rides that makes the patrons' stomachs (read: movie viewers) turn more and more. And more.
With the 58-year-old Gere in the operator's seat, it's obvious we're a long way from the Oscar-buzzed caliber of Chicago, and all that jazz. So much so you can't help but wonder whose path Mr. Gere might have crossed to appear in this mindlessly underdeveloped attempt at what appears to be mainstreaming torture-porn. Director Andrew Lau's (Hong-Kong based Infernal Affairs, remade as The Departed) The Flock wallows in the very mire of human perversion that it sluggishly tries to convince of rising above. The irony being that its tenuous existence perpetuates artistic perversion, rather than condemning its eviler sexual cousin.
This egregious sustentation is found foremost in the person of the default protagonist, Babbage. He's a self-appointed enforcer of justice. A gate-keeping vigilante to be sure, as bad, or worse, than the malefactors he's charged with keeping tabs on. Babbage breaks into residences to perform illegal searches, openly carries a gun against Department policy, andâ€”in conduct that would make â"Dirty" Harry Callahan wince in disapprovalâ€”by night leads a secret life in which he dons a ski mask and violently attacks miscreants based on their potential to commit future crimes (â"We're fortune tellers"). This unchecked conduct ridiculously culminates with Babbage and Lowry bursting into a sex offenders meeting firing his revolver into floor and walls, demanding at point-blank range the whereabouts of the abducted girl. Your unnamed city's municipal tax dollars at work.
As preposterous as all this sounds, Gere breezes through the garbageâ€”human and otherwiseâ€”with a begrudging Teflon deftness. This despite the fact that we know nothing of Babbage's personal life. Wife, kids, friends, parents, not so much as a neighborâ€”dead or living, current or formerâ€”are present, or accounted for. Gere either believes in this material more than he has any right to, or he's even more skilled an actor than we knew. Either way, his unabashedness belies the dispirited material. The gaping script holes don't lend themselves to understanding Babbage's motivations, garner the slightest iota of sympathy for him, or make you wonder why you've never heard of The Flock.
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Language and Sound: English: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access..
Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging
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