Friday, September 14, 2012

Crimson...with Embarassment: "The Crimson Code" (2001)

I admit I liked the basic idea of this film. What if an FBI agent stumbled across some cases of serial killers getting murdered by another serial killer, a serial killer killer? Cool, and something different to throw into the serial killer film subgenre. Well, we can always hope.

Patrick Muldoon, looking like the theoretical lovechild of David Duchovny and Jason Patric, plays the young FBI agent who works in the serial killer unit. He partners with Cathy Moriarty, and they work for Tim Thomerson, in another of a long line of dramatic roles he has taken lately (I remember when he was a comedian).

Muldoon discovers a bunch of serial killers who are dead or stopped killing, and he goes to wheelchair-bound mentor Fred Ward, who has about six scenes and never leaves his living room.

Muldoon begins to suspect Thomerson and elite squad (the "Red Team") of killing serial killers, and then he witnesses a pedophile get the Red Team treatment (he is thrown off a bridge). This throws a monkey wrench into his investigation of C. Thomas Howell, who shaved his head, grew a goatee, and wears wire rimmed glasses, all trying to make you forget he was in "Soul Man" (I haven't forgotten). Howell is a serial killer who cuts the tongues out of young girls' mouths (maybe to stop them from asking him what Tom Cruise was REALLY like on the set of "The Outsiders.")

Thomerson traps Muldoon and Howell in a certain fiery death trap, just so they can escape and have their revenge on Thomerson and Moriarty, who we figure out is part of the Red Team about three days before Muldoon does. This leads to a snowy finale at Muldoon's house, and ho-hum action blows up all over the place.

Neat basic idea, but I felt cheated and patronized by the film makers. At one point, Thomerson takes Howell's watch before leaving him to die. Now, we have seen another Thomerson victim without a watch, and we see Thomerson take the pedophile's watch, and everyone talks about how serial killers take trophies from their victims, so naturally Thomerson is taking timepieces as trophies of his serial killer victims...but we still need Muldoon to tell Howell that, just in case one person out in the audience shrieks "hey, what's the deal with the watches?"

Also, the Red Team sets up Muldoon with fake notes from Howell. Muldoon's home is wired to an alarm. Someone from the Red Team gets in, leaves the fake message for Muldoon, and does not set off the alarm. Later, when two Red Team members sneak into Muldoon's house to kill him, they set off the alarm. Worse still, when one of the fake notes gives Muldoon an address where Howell is supposedly killing a woman as we speak, Muldoon goes flying over there alone, gun drawn, not stopping long enough to remember all that great training Fred Ward taught him. How many serial killers give out addresses to the FBI, in case they might want to prevent another killing?

The film's original title, "Red Team," and the video title give away the fact that the Red Team is involved in killing serial killers, thereby negating any suspense the film had planned. The final shot involving the FBI director tries to be very droll and ironic, but it is just a weak ending to a weak film.

I cannot recommend "The Crimson Code." (* *) out of five stars.