The Statement has an opening that is down right astounding. An old man and a person with car trouble collide in a way that you will simply not see coming. In five minutes it becomes evident that nothing is what it seems, and even the simplest of situations are much more then what meets the eye. Too bad that the rest of the The Statement is content to show you exactly what meets the eye. The film is full of pulled punches and odd decisions. It treads lightly and looks neutrally on a subject that demands that sides be chosen. This is really too bad, what could have been was a film that was on par with Caine's brilliant The Quiet American or the wonderful piece of smart entertainment The Tailor of Panama. Hell even a damn good thriller like Marathon Man would be wonderful, instead we get a film that stumbles when it should soar, and demands that French people speak in thick British Accents.
Micheal Caine plays Pierre Brossad, French war criminal who committed various atrocities during WWII. He is being sheltered by the Catholic Church, but is currently in danger from a Jewish cabal (Or is it? DUN DA DAAAA) which has placed a bounty on his head for his participation in a particularly brutal massacre, and a judge looking to make a name for himself by charging Brossad with crimes against humanity. Brossad is a fascinating character, a devout Catholic who can kill without a second thought. It is therefore odd that an actor such as Caine cannot get us inside his head. He says he's torn up by guilt and he says he's a devout Catholic, but it doesn't seem so. Too much telling and not enough doing. He is also utterly unsympathetic, giving you no one to root for, he seems much more perturbed by the fact that assassins are spoiling his morning beer and paper rather than that they are trying to kill him. The other characters aren't much better. Catholics are evil, the Judge is a stereotypical uber bitch, and her Army assistant is a Mr. Smither's level sycophant.
There is still potential for a good movie here, a cat and mouse movie where Brossad finds himself sandwiched between the vengeful Jewish Cabal and a vengeful legal system and maybe something else DUN DUN DAAAA. However, there is another little stickler here. For a movie to be a thriller, it must be thrill-ING and The Statement is definitely not that. The chases are utterly devoid of tension and excitement, even if we where to give half a crap about anybody that is involved in them, these would still be pathetic. The "twist" at the end is telegraphed so loudly that Encyclopedia Brown would have no trouble figuring it out.
Finally I want to talk about the way Catholics are portrayed in this film. I'm a practicing Catholic but I'm not sensitive about my religion at all when it comes to such things. My problem here is not that the Catholics are portrayed as Nazi loving, Jew Killing, Amoral psychopaths. I would actually be surprised to find out that the church did NOT harbor a war criminal or two. I'm insulted that Catholics would be portrayed as being so dumb about it. Its just like in Hannibal, how the Machiavellian mastermind suddenly became Jason Voorhees with an ear for classical music. The evil forces in this Catholic church wouldn't survive for two weeks, much less two thousand years, Think Mc Fly.
So in the end, you have a movie without a single likeable character, a single moment of tension, a single surprising plot development, or much of anything really. For a movie called The Statement, it sure keeps from saying anything.