It’s taken an unseemly number of executive producers — ten to be exact — to secure the financing (budget: $35 million) required to bring you a film with a former movie star, and still marquee name, Richard Gere, that you’ve never heard of. Not knowing of a movie by the time it shows up on DVD (in this case, six months) doesn’t necessarily preclude it from being good or bad — or in this case, deadened.
Gere is Erroll Babbage, an 18-year-veteran Department of Public Safety officer in an unnamed city who tracks the movements of sex offenders on his case-load registry. But these aren’t your Grandma’s sexual predators. These guys and gals are violent, depraved, and fatalistic. They’ve gone post-modern in satisfying their insatiable cravings with the use of asphyxiation, saws, and fan clubs. They’re mechanically inclined, and, even worse, organized.
For the wearied Babbage, there seems to be a light at the end of this dank tunnel; not so for the viewer. The silver-headed old hand has only 18 days left on his suffocating job. Problem is, he isn’t keen about leaving — his boss Stiles (Ray Wise) calls it a retirement, but truth is that Babbage is being let go. An even bigger problem is one that the movie never explains: why?
With his time winding down, the loose cannon Babbage has to train his replacement — city government allowing terminated employees to train their replacements — Allison Lowry (Claire Danes). As Babbage and Lowry go about checking up on his “registrants,” a young girl is abducted. The impulsive pro suspects one of his offending flock are involved.
Plot wheels lazily in motion — but by no means in Gere — the so-called public servants make their way from one sexual offender haven and hideout to another. Each locale is like an ever-challenging series of amusement park roller coaster rides that makes the patrons’ stomachs (read: movie viewers) turn more and more. And more.
With the 58-year-old Gere in the operator's seat, it’s obvious we’re a long way from the Oscar-buzzed caliber of Chicago, and all that jazz. So much so you can’t help but wonder whose path Mr. Gere might have crossed to appear in this mindlessly underdeveloped attempt at what appears to be mainstreaming torture-porn. Director Andrew Lau’s (Hong-Kong's Infernal Affairs, remade as The Departed) The Flock wallows in the very mire of human perversion that it sluggishly tries to convince us its rising above. The irony being that its tenuous existence perpetuates artistic perversion, rather than condemning its more evil sexual cousin.