you can't always listen to the haters.
going in to this movie, i wasn't expecting very much. at best, i figured the title of the film was a cheap cash-in on the director's legendary output. something to get "nerds" like myself to pony up the funds to watch some new argento. i hadn't really dug anything recent from argento, and it certainly seemed like the glory days were long gone.
maybe going in with little expectation helped, but this film is a huge improvement over the weak tv-movie vibe of "mother of tears" and certainly a major improvement in the acting department. having adrian brody on board absolutely bumped this film up 10x. granted, he doesn't have TONS of stuff to do in the film, and he plays it straight as the detective with a troubled past who has his "own methods" for catching the psycho killer. typically his character would've been staffed by a no-name or has-been actor who really phones it in. having someone of his caliber on board makes his character stick out, and this film infinitely more watchable. argento keeps brody in the spotlight damn near the entire film, and i daresay his character is more important in the end than the actual killer is.
the cinematography alone is a thousand times better than the bland, ho-hum look of latter day argento output. this has warmth and class when zooming around the city and a suitably dank look in the killer's "dungeon" attention to detail in these areas makes a difference. you've also got a more fleshed out story that makes more sense. everyone who follows argento knows it's usually been style over substance. his dream-like images and narratives being the important than the acting and the logic of the story. in my opinion, this film turns that around. we've got a simple story that makes sense with actors who act believably! (as opposed to mother of tears...yikes!)
i think alot of argento "fanboys" have a hard time criticizing because love of his earlier films carries them through some not-so-great current work. choking down some banal by-the-numbers thriller just because the director USED to make amazing movies is not something i'm interested in. dario can't make 1001 movies that look and act just like the films his legion of "nerd-fans" (myself included) love. he needs to make movies that regular folk would want to go see. i think this is one of the first films that would work for a wider audience beyond the film student, gore-fan, or argento completist.
admittedly, i'm a huge argento fan, and i was going to see this no matter what. there's little sense in denying the maestro's work really has suffered over the last few films. giallo is a MUCH better film than people are giving it credit for online and in reviews. it's NOT suspiria, it's not deep red or cat o nine tails....(it's also NOT the 1970's either) those films had their time and their place. in order to stay relevant, more modern approaches are needed. you can't expect to see a bunch of crazy lighting and wacky camera angles like it's 1970.
granted, it's not all roses here. the character of "linda" played by emmanuelle seigner isn't always believable, and the fact that for most of the movie she's tramping around with "inspector enzo" and viewing police scenes and documents like she's his partner is a little far-fetched. a few times she was asked to leave, or stepped out...but she basically just latches onto inspector enzo and just stays there. i know she was supposed to be grief-stricken and desperate to find her sister, but cmon.
i also had a little trouble with "giallo" himself. he speaks english with a broken italian accent but the voice is a little humorous the first time you hear it. you DONT want people to chuckle when they hear the killer for the first time! it reminded me of fulci's new york ripper where the killer quacks like a duck. later on though, you get used to it and the broken english "caveman" lines he throws out kinda worked! "i die...she die" anyhow, a little more creepiness in his voice or even effects to make it deeper or more disturbing would've helped there.
the classic argento gore was in place for this film....a hammer smashing to the face is shown, for example....but there were cutaways from the violence occasionally when i would've like to see a grittier show-it-all vibe. although that movie sucked, mother of tears went pretty crazy with the gore. argento had some trend-setting violence is his early films, so it's not like he's a stranger to it, and restraint in the gore keeps it classier, as we don't need argento to hop aboard the annoying "hostel, saw..blahblahblah trend" but they cutaway from a lip being cut with a scissors, and show a face pummelling with a hammer?!?!
all said, this is a current, well-shot thriller...and there's nothing wrong with that!