Genre: Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller
A murderer with a bizarre formula and a thirst for revenge is loose in The Killing Gene, a trendy-looking thriller that has a few genuine surprises up its sleeve. In a dark, dank metropolis (shot in Belfast), hard-bitten veteran cop Stellan Skarsgard is paired with a svelte new partner (Melissa George) straight out of a hand-lotion ad. Their by-the-numbers bickering needs to end soon, because the killer is carving weird symbols in the flesh of the victims, and a Seven-like system is behind it all. There's no denying the oppressive atmosphere here, although by contrast Seven included recognizable signs of human life, such as humor and sadness, which this film noticeably lacks. More damagingly to the cop-movie point, the two leads are miscast, with George too deft for her one-note role and the able Skarsgard trying too hard to fit into the mold of the gruff American detective who gargles with rocks. He's an excellent actor, but the accent seems to have distracted him from concentrating on the performance. Selma Blair turns in an interesting turn as a woman connected with a former case, but her dark madness alone isn't enough to lift the film above its disagreeable level. --Robert Horton

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