Soul Assassin
directed by Laurence Malkin
(Universal, 2001)

Filmmaker Laurence Malkin used to make music videos. Unfortunately, the faux-stylish production of Soul Assassin -- with its faded colors, strobe effects, stop-and-go cinematography and mini-flashbacks -- doesn't work for anything longer than a three-minute video clip.

Kevin Burke (Skeet Ulrich) is a newly promoted, highly trained security officer for a multi-national financial conglomerate based in Rotterdam. On the night he proposes marriage to his girlfriend Rosalind (Katherine Lang), a banker within the same firm, she is brutally killed -- and Burke is encouraged by boss Karl Jorgensen (Derek de Lint) and security chief Ficks (Serge-Henri Valcke) to seek the killer and take revenge without the aid of local police or Interpol.

Burke leaves a line of bodies in his wake -- friends killed by others and a variety of anonymous goons killed by him -- as he follows the trail that seems either to implicate his girlfriend in illegal activities or to finger her as an informant against her employers. Tessa (Kristy Swanson) seems to be involved with the killers ... but is she?

I'd be doing you a favor to answer the question and save you the time it takes to find out for yourself. Soul Assassin takes itself quite seriously, but fails to provide adequate motivations for the so-called plot. Ulrich in particular is unconvincing -- the emotional rollercoaster he should be riding is flat and uninteresting. Swanson shows a bit more potential, but Malkin is so busy making her character "mysterious" that he fails to allow her a personality. Lang is perhaps the most believable character on-screen; it's a shame Rosalind had to die so early in the film.

The visual effects are, I assume, supposed to add tension and drama to the tale, but instead they cause headaches and eyestrain. I can only guess the blue filter Malkin used to drain color and life from his movie was intended to mask its gaping flaws.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 2 October 2004

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