The Flock is a pretty baffling movie. While it starts out painting a deliciously gray picture of the current state of monitoring sex offenders, it goes off the rails pretty quickly. In the end, it turns out to be a fear-mongering, strangely bigoted film that carries an awful message: criminals don’t change, they don’t deserve a chance to change, and they’re lurking around every corner, waiting to do horrible things to you.
Errol Babbage works for the department of public safety. He is in charge of monitoring the activities of registered sex offenders, and he does it with a terrifying zeal. After a series of complaints are filed, he’s given the boot. His last task is to train his replacement, the young and enthusiastic Allison Lowry. When a seventeen year-old girl goes missing, Babbage becomes convinced that one of his sex offenders is involved. The two go deep into the world of sex crime, gathering clues and tracking down sex offenders, with Allison worrying all the while if they’re crossing some lines.
The concept is intriguing. This film could have been a pretty fascinating exploration of how far a person is willing to go to defeat a perceived threat. The film starts out promisingly enough, with enough moral ambiguity to make it interesting. The film really stalls, however, when it actually shows that Babbage is right. The film doesn’t manage to touch on any gray tones. Babbage, while a brute, is portrayed as completely right. The registered sex offenders are all portrayed as monsters. Even when they’re not acting on their perversions, they’re all still outwardly projection an inherent wrongness.
The film seems to be spreading the word that there is no such thing as rehabilitation, that we shouldn’t ever trust a registered sex offender. The film would have us believe that every registered sex offender is just biding his or her time, waiting for the perfect moment to go out and rape someone. This is a strangely alarmist take on a very complex issue. The end result is a mess of a story, with no real tension or ambiguity. Just sanctimony.
This film is directed by Andrew Lau, best known for Infernal Affairs. It doesn’t feel like it however. He uses none of the same skill or technique. The film has a pretty decent look, but it’s all wasted because of some pretty horrible camerawork. This film has none of the nuance of Infernal Affairs, but it still comes out pretty confusing because of some really weird editing.
Richard Gere has always been solid, if unspectacular. This film isn’t any different for him. He’s probably the best thing in this film, but that’s not saying much at all. Once again, Claire Danes proves to be a pretty bad actress all in all. She seems incapable of showing emotion with indicating it first through some sort of physical action. In most films, it’s constant head bobbing. Here, it’s arm motion. She needs to take some classes. It may be worth noting that Avril Lavigne is in this film, but her scene is pretty bad.
The purpose of this film is just lost on me. It really just plays out like some kind of sick power-fantasy for a group of sanctimonious death penalty advocates. But even if I agreed with the sentiment the film seems to provide, we’re still left with a pretty poorly-made film. Better to just leave this alone and forget about it.