Michael Caine is a brilliant actor, but his choice of roles is notoriously wayward. For every Alfie there's an Ashanti, every Mona Lisa a Jaws 4. And for his astonishing, Oscar-nominated turn in The Quiet American, there's The Statement. Leaden, overwrought, and abominably boring, it sees him play a fugitive in 90s France, trying to escape those who want to kill him for working with the Nazis in World War II. Never mind the Cockney collaborator - after 20 minutes you'll want everyone dead.
Veteran Canadian director Norman Jewison gave us drab Denzel Washingon drama The Hurricane, and this is another wretchedly 'worthy' picture. Plodding and predictable, it follows Caine's weasel on the run as he seeks help from the Catholic Church (whose clergy are portrayed here, as so often on screen, as either power-hungry or spineless - surely this can't be the whole truth?).
Obviously, our sympathy isn't stretched much for this desperate, hypocritical old man, who'll do anything to save his own skin, as long as he can later repent for his sin. But neither do we know the forces pursuing him, or care about the long arm of the law, represented by Jeremy Northam's Colonel and Tilda Swinton's judge.
"CAINE DOESN'T HOLD THE ATTENTION"
The latter is a gifted actress who gives a surprisingly poor performance, although it must have been difficult to muster any conviction for the flat-footed scenes of deduction or the ridiculously on-the-nose dialogue. No one is well served by Ronald Harwood's stagey script, which lacks what little dynamism he injected into The Pianist.
As decent as he is as a jittery, on-the-edge killer, Caine doesn't hold the attention even halfway to the inevitable conclusion, which is further degraded by a decision to dedicate the movie to the victims of Nazi brutality. It smacks of self-importance and aren't-we-decent award-seeking: adding insult to incalculable injury. Avoid.