Totally entertaining and directed to a fare-the-well, The Memory of a Killer is not only as good as any American thriller of the past several years, but boasts a totally unique premise: An aging hit man suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's is so turned off by his final contract, he decides to go after the men who hired him. Featuring veteran actor Jan Decleir (Character) in a mesmerizing performance as the hit man, director Erik van Looy's film is as good as European commercial cinema gets.

The story follows hit man Angelo Ledda (Declair) as he leaves Marseilles to fulfill a contract in Antwerp. But once he discovers that one of the targets is a 13-year-old girl-and that his murders are meant to cover up evidence of a pedophile ring-Ledda refuses to kill the girl and goes out after the perverts instead. The trail eventually leads to the top rungs of the Belgian government, which makes matters even more interesting. And as Ledda runs around killing people, he's closely pursued by two young cops who soon begin to see the connection between the murders and a cover-up involving state institutions.

Throughout all this, Ledda finds himself having to deal with Alzheimer's, which not only makes him a bit careless, but also causes him to sometimes forget who he's after and why. The disease is also a key factor in the film's surprise ending, when the whereabouts of an important piece of evidence seem to be lost in the recesses of Ledda's increasingly faulty memory.

Featuring some memorable action sequences and express-train pacing, The Memory of a Killer has the production values of a Hollywood "A" film and plays like a genre masterpiece directed by Don Siegel at the height of his powers. It's a major accomplishment for van Looy, who, if the Hollywood gods are just, should be sifting through all sorts of tasty offers by now. This man is definitely ready for the big time.
-Lewis Beale