The Killing Gene (2007) - A calculating killer coerces a detective to pay for his previous mistakes.
To make things slightly more complicated than they need to be, this film has several titles. Over here in the UK, the movie is known as WΔZ (pronounced double-u delta zed). However, it was released in the United States with the title The Killing Gene. Try looking for it on IMDB, and you will see it listed as w Delta z. Confused? Good.
This British made movie boasts an excellent cast. Stellan Skarsgård, Melissa George, Selma Blair, Ashley Walters, Paul Kaye and (most importantly for this reviewer) Tom Hardy all show up and put on a great show.
The plot revolves around the veteran detective Eddie Argo (Stellan Skarsgård) and his new partner Helen Wescott (Melissa George) who meet at the scene of a homicide. The pregnant girlfriend of a known thug has been found murdered and further investigations reveal a serial killer is at work with a taste for torture. As the pair try to figure out who is behind the killing and why, things get personal when they find that this serial killer is not picking the victims at random, as all of them are key players in a past criminal case Eddie had fumbled. The killer seems to be serving out a form of perverted justice while simultaneously using the victims to test out a mathematical equation.
Some are mutilated while others have the Price equation (wΔz = Cov (w,z) = βwzVz) carved into their flesh. The equation is where the films titles come from, as it is a mathematical description of evolution and natural selection. It provides us a way to understand the effects that gene transmission and natural selection have on the proportion of genes within each new generation of a population. Or so the theory goes.
The detective and his partner unearth the meaning of the odd equation and realise each victim is being offered a gruesome choice: kill your loved ones, or be killed. Before long it becomes clear that the perpetrator has suffered a similar fate and is now coping by seeking a way to solve this philosophical dilemma.
Comparisons to movies like Saw & Se7en are inevitable, especially when those films are quoted on the movie posters. Police thriller plus some torture, all sounds like something you’ve seen many times before. Yet The Killing Gene is a worthy entry into the horror/thriller genre, and was an enjoyable watch. The main reason was because of the cast. I’m a big fan of Melissa George from her role in one of my favourite movies Triangle, and she doesn’t disappoint here. Her partner, Skarsgård, is fantastic as a man who has his fair share of skeletons locked away in the closet. To say any more about his character would ruin the twists this movie surprised me with, but needless to say a poorer actor could well have ruined this script and performance. Skarsgård knocks out it of the park luckily, what a performance. I could go on about the whole cast, but I would ruin more and it’s easier if I just say they were all excellent. I will just add that Tom Hardy plays a horrible character (as he does so well, like in The Take) and steals every scene he is in. Phenomenal actor.
For some people, the violence on show here may put you off. It is quite extreme, but unlike the Hostel and Saw series, it really is a backdrop to the story, and in a weird way is well deserved to those on the receiving end. Be aware though, if you do check it out, a couple of scenes are not for the faint hearted. Although I’m not talking Martyrs standard, don’t worry. Pretty tame in comparison.
It’s always nice to see a low-budget British movie offer something refreshing and relatively unique. I’m not trying to convince you it’s the perfect movie, far from it. Inept cops and some dubious procedure would be two things that jumped out at me straight away. A little bit of the dialogue was sketchy at best, but the positive aspects far outweighed these little niggles for me. You could do a lot worse than looking out for The Killing Gene (or w Delta z, or WΔZ). Plus, who doesn’t love Tom Hardy, even before he was an A-lister.
Associate producer Brock Norman Brock, supporting actor Tom Hardy, and cinematographer Morten Søborg shortly after this film would work with Nicolas Winding Refn. Brock (as co-writer) and Hardy (in the lead titular role) in Bronson and Søborg (who is famous for his work with Refn) in Valhalla Rising.