The Flock (2007)

An officer who is training his replacement has to track down a missing girl who may be connected to a paroled sex offender.

Genre – Drama

Executive Producer – Walter Josten

Director(s) – Wai Keung Lau (aka Andrew Lau) and Niels Muller

Writer(s) – Hans Bauer and Craig Mitchell

Cast – Richard Gere, Claire Danes and Avril Lavigne

Blue Rider’s Role – Arranged bridge financing

Distributor(s) – Bauer Martinez, High Fliers (UK), Hoyts (Australia and NZ), Cinestar (Philippines), Golden Village (Singapore), TFM (France), Kinowelt (Germany), RCV (Netherlands), Movie-Eye and Geneon (Japan), Golden Scene (HK), Pyramid (Russia), Genius (US DVD)

Release Date – 2007

Synopsis – This crime action thriller follows a hyper-vigilant employee of the Department of Public Safety who, while training his young female replacement, has to track down a missing girl who he is convinced is connected to a paroled sex offender he is investigating. Working against the clock, they unravel the twisted details to track the potential killer.

Boxoffice and Release Information:
As of March 29, 2009, The Flock had earned $7,114,657 in 29 foreign markets, with the biggest-grossing being Spain ($2,710,004), Mexico ($914,881 in its first 11 weeks and still screening), Brazil ($749,924), South Korea ($366,198 in its first 18 days), Turkey ($252,285) and Thailand ($210,273). In Argentina it did $187,073 in seven weeks. It grossed $125,316 in an eight-week Portugal/Angola run. It was still screening in Bolivia. It was scheduled for release in Denmark, U.K./Ireland/Malta and Finland at dates to be announced.

Critic’s Kudos:
Kaori Shoji, The Japan Times online: “Richard Gere stars as a creased, rumpled, work-obsessed monitor of sexual offenders in The Flock (released in Japan as “Kieta Tenshi”), a vehicle in which he seems to derive absolute pleasure from shattering his own, Desirable Male No. 1 stereotype.

“Gere has become a formidable actor, one who can play disheveled unattractiveness without the slightest hint of irony or self-deprecation, who dons the role as naturally and casually as slipping into a pair of worn-out corduroys. Who would have thought that Richard Gere of all people, could make himself reek with Mid-Life Crisis? But reek he does, with what seems like sheer glee. Ungroomed, unsexy and obnoxious to the marrow, he does things like turn up unexpectedly at a young woman’s home, accept her hospitable offer of a drink and then pass out on the sofa, snoring. He struts, he huffs, he has a serious anger problem. No one likes him and he likes no one. He’s scared stiff of what he’ll do after retirement because then he will be left with nothing. Having spent decades in the company of convicted sex criminals, it seems much of their mind-set and behavior has rubbed off; he can’t look at a female without wondering whether or not she’s been molested but his probing gaze has just as much creep factor as the offenders he helped to put behind bars.

“Directed by Andrew Lau (the Hong Kong filmmaker of “Infernal Affairs” fame who has since moved out to Hollywood), “The Flock” is a weird, murkily-lit movie with “The Silence of the Lambs” undertones.

“The Flock moves fast, looks good and has all that attests to Lau’s trademark stylishness.”

“Nix,” “In his first American film, director Andrew Lau makes good use of his Hollywood budget. There are some great soaring overhead shots of the vast stretches of Interstate road that populate the film’s setting. There is also a purposeful focus on the barren landscape, as if to say, ‘You can’t hide anything here,’ and yet, everyone is hiding something, even our hero.

“There is an amusing scene early on where Babbage refuses to let an attractive woman pick him up at a bar. Instead of going along, he mischievously asks her the same standard questions he asks his sex offenders. We also meet a support group made up entirely of Babbage’s flock, men and women who have done vile things in the past, but who now get together on a weekly basis to complain about his aggressive methods. Or as Babbage’s boss puts it: ‘The offenders are offended!’

“This is clearly Richard Gere’s movie, and he turns in a great performance as the burdened hero. Babbage is a conflicted human who wants to believe in good, but has seen too much to allow himself that luxury.

“The fact that Gere’s Babbage is a watcher of perverts, but is himself not authorized to do very much to stop them, is one of the film’s main talking points. The film drives homen the fact that there are about 1000 sex offenders to be monitored by each case worker, as well as the seemingly lost cause of trying to keep the refuse of our society in check. When someone like Babbage is ostracized for doing his job too well (if a tad over zealously), there is cause for concern.

“The film will be of most interest to Asian film fans that have followed director Andrew Lau’s career in Hong Kong, where he made his bones on international hits like the ‘Infernal Affairs’ films (since remade into the Martin Scorsese crime flick ‘The Departed’). It’s certainly a finely acted piece, with good direction by Lau..”

Video Business review (titled “Compelling and intense thriller reminiscent of Se7en”): “Like the recently released Amy Heckerling comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman, The Flock is another noteworthy title from Bauer Martinez Studios that’s receiving a domestic DVD premiere from The Weinstein Co. following a brief international theatrical run. And that’s too bad in this case, because a stateside theatrical release would have generated buzz that could have substantially helped the DVD release. Directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Andrew Lau (whose masterful Internal Affairs was remade by Martin Scorsese on these shores as The Departed), The Flock stars Richard Gere as Erroll Babbage, a driven case worker for the Department of Public Safety. Tasked with keeping track of registered sex offenders, Babbage is haunted by memories of The One That Got Away, and when a young girl in his jurisdiction goes missing, he breaks all the rules to stop the suspect he believes is responsible. Gere is relatively understated, and Claire Danes does well as the wide-eyed, naive apprentice assigned to keep him out of trouble. Lau’s direction is generally unobtrusive, but his artistic touch will be evident to keen-eyed students of noir-ish filmmaking. The Flock bears comparison to David Fincher’s Se7en, and like that film, Flock has some fairly intense moments involving gore and aberrant sexuality.

“Stars Gere and Danes both made appearances on the Top 10 renters last quarter in The Hoax and Stardust, respectively, so there’s certainly an audience for them out there, as well as one for Grammy nominee Avril Lavigne, who has a cameo. But aggressive marketing will be needed to create the necessary consumer awareness for Flock. To the extent that Genius can generate numerous print, broadcast and Internet impressions, The Flock will deliver. In a season of relatively weak new thrillers, it’s likely to be a standout, if properly exploited.”

Brian Orndorf, “Flock will certainly appeal to television cop drama junkies and those who love to see Claire Danes cry. Making his English-language directorial debut is Andrew Lau, the mind behind the beloved Asian cinema offering, Infernal Affairs (remade in America as The Departed).

“Richard Gere’s performance is a good reason to stick with Flock. He’s always amusing in these nutbag roles, chewing the scenery with his furious chest-heaving and rapid blinking, and the script gives Gere plenty of room to stampede. Gere is strong here. He gives Erroll an emotional purpose that’s accessible and, at times, something to celebrate when the character goes vigilante and starts offering Irish kisses to the predators he’s supposed to be monitoring. He’s terrific with rage.

Stefan S, A Nutshell Review: “The Andrew Lau and Alan Mak partnership has been a tour de force in recent HK cinematic history, especially with their now famous Infernal Affairs trilogy which was remade into Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, so it’s no surprise when Hollywood comes knocking on the door. The Flock is a decent investigative drama with the usual red herrings, and my, are they really good ones as it made you wonder quite often if your guesses are correct, and you soon find yourself firing from the hip as you get proved incorrect at alarming frequency.

“The Flock makes decent entertainment. Gere and Danes do put forth some chemistry as the old fogey and his protege, and Andrew Lau did manage to pull off something enjoyable.”

Daz Dingez, BlimFlog: “A very decent film with solid performances by Gere and Danes. The flashing about-like-on-crack editing adds to the
creepy setting.”

“Johnny Web,” Movie House: “This thriller represents the American directorial debut of a Hong Kong legend, Andrew Lau, who directed Infernal Affairs, the excellent film which inspired The Departed. It stars two fairly important actors, Richard Gere and Claire Danes. The budget was $35 million.

“The film is dark, and I was relieved that most of the truly nasty activities took place off-camera. It is really designed to play out as a thriller, and it climaxes with a race against the clock. It is much more stylish and aloof than it would be if it concentrated on establishing empathy with the characters, or the victims. It features yet another excellent Richard Gere performance.”

Viewers’ Ratings:
Through Feb. 25, 2009, more than 62.4% of the 4,009 people who rated The Flock at The Internet Movie Database gave it positive ratings. It got thumbs-up from all demographic groups, with the most enthusiastic being females 45 land older (rating it 6.2 out of 10), boys 17 and younger (6.1) and both women 30-44 and men 45 and older (6.0).

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Wai Keung Lau (aka Andrew Lau) directed, produced, starred in and/or shot more than 40 Hong Kong movies, winning many international awards for Infernal Affairs, which was the basis for Martin Scorsese’s The Departed); Niels Muller, who did some re-shoots on the film, wrote and directed The Assasination of Richard Nixon, wrote the script for Tadpole and directed episodes of the TV series Great Scott.

Co-writer Hans Bauer scripted Anaconda and provided the story for Titan A.E. He and co-writer Craig Mitchell wrote Highwaymen and Komodo.

Stars Richard Gere (The Jackal, Primal Fear, Unfaithful, The Mothman Prophecies, First Night, Sommersby, American Gigolo, The Cotton Club, Internal Affairs, Final Analysis, Breathless, Looking for Mr. Goodbar; Golden Globe Winner for Chicago; seven other awards and 10 nominations for Pretty Woman, And the Band Played On, An Officer and a Gentleman, Dr. T and the Women, Shall We Dance, Runaway Bride and Red Corner); Claire Danes (Terminator III: Rise of the Machines, U-Turn, Igby Goes Down, The Family Stone, Les Miserables, Brokedown Palace, The Mod Squad, Stage Beauty, How to Make an American Quilt; multiple award winner for Romeo + Juliet; honors for My So-Called Life and To Gilian on Her 37th Birthday; eight nominations for films including Little Women, Home for the Holidays, Shopgirl and The Rainmaker) and Canadian singing superstar Avril Lavigne (whose debut single ‘Complicated’ went six times platinum).

Cast also includes Matt Schultze (Blade, Blade II, The Fast and the Furious); Ed Ackerman (Remarkable Power, Charmed); Dwayne L. Barnes (White Men Can’t Jump, Menace II Society); Josh Berry (Friday Night Lights, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Universal Soldier: The Return); Frank Bond (Hide ‘N Seek, Three Wise Guys); Twink Caplan (Clueless, A Night at the Roxbury, Look Who’s Talking); Russell Sams (Wonderland, The Rules of Attraction) and KaDee Strickland (The Sixth Sense, Girl Interrupted, Fever Pitch, The Stepford Wives; Teen Choice Award nom for The Grudge).

Executive producers are Karinne Behr (Wake of Death, Modigliani); Luc Campeau (2001: A Space Travesty, Extreme Ops) and Peter Schwerin (Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2).

Producers: Philippe Martinez (In Her Defense, Wake of Death, Modigliani); Wai Keung Lau (many international awards for Infernal Affairs); Adam Richman (Borderline, Boat Trip); Elie Samaha (The Pledge, The Whole Nine Yards) and Larry Rapaport (nominated for Emmy and PGA awards for Into the West).

Cinematographer Enrique Chediak (won Sundance Best Cinematography award for Hurricane; he also shot Cronicas, Songcatcher, Boiler Room, The Faculty, The Good Girl, Brown Sugar, Down in the Valley and A Home at the End of the World).

Original Music by Guy Farley (Wake of Death, Last Run).

Film Editing by Tracy Adams (The Chronicles of Riddick, The Green Mile, The Rock) and Martin Hunter (Full Metal Jacket, Event Horizon).

Production Design by Lester Cohen (Ice Princess, Cop Land, House of D).

Art Direction by Ed Vega (Gettysburg, White Sands, The Hot Spot).

Set Decoration by Carla Curry (Walk the Line, Office Space, Friday Night Lights).

Costume Design by Deborah Everton (The Abyss, Spy Kids; won Saturn Award for Star Trek: First Contact).

Producer quote:
Philippe Martinez: “Other thrillers make you feel like it’s just a movie, but The Flock deals very realistically and dramatically with something that happens every day to people near you: sexual abuse of children. The movie is entertaining, but it also makes you feel stronger about what needs to be done against sex offenders. The film is very real and very scary.

“Its cast is very appealing. Richard Gere and Claire Danes loved the script as soon as they read it, and their enthusiasm shows on the screen.

“To make The Flock, we borrowed from the Royal Bank of Scotland, but the loan was taking too long for our production needs. We needed $4 million right away to be able to keep shooting. Walter and Jeff studied the film and we quickly made a deal. Thank God for that. Without them we couldn’t have finished the film.”

Internet Movie Database entry for The Flock

Official site (in Dutch)

Four Trailers in many formats