Deary and confusing murder drama set in 1988 West Berlin
**SPOILERS** Just too hard to follow with too many sub-plots makes
"Killing Blue" fall apart long before the movies unsurprising
conclusion. That's about as exciting as an attack of insomnia.
Berlin homicide inspector Alex Glass is having a bad time with his
conscience after he mistakenly shot and injured a little girl in a
blotched attempt to arrest a fugitive in a Berlin apartment house.
Upset with himself and his work Glass starts to drink and goes into a
deep depression over his actions that crippled the girl for life. Glass
secretly buys her gifts and presents to make up for what he mistakenly
did to her. Even his new assistant Shirley May notices Glass' ugly
demeanor with him treating her worse the the criminals that he deals
with every day.
It's then that something happens that changes Glass' attitude when he
becomes involved with the drug death of Ennis Warner. That leads right
to Berlin District Attorney Michael Karstens doorstep who's daughter
Monica was Ennis' best friend. Being very close to Karstens as both a
friend of the lawman Glass took a personal interest in Ennis's death.
Finding that Ennis was a street hooker and druggie Glass tracked down
her supplier lover and possibly murderer a small-time thug named Jack
Miskowski. It turns out that Miskowski was with Ennis the night that
she overdosed.The movie then takes a left-turn when high-priced hooker
Lisa comes on the scene and Glass, after saving her from a over
demanding customer, starts getting it on with her. Only to later find
out, from a photo in Lisa's hotel room, that she and Miskowski are
lovers as well as being involved in his drug and prostitution racket.
It also comes to both Glass and Karsten' attention that Karstens'
teenage daughter Monica is a junkie and is also getting her drugs from
Miskowski just like her late friend Ennis did. Michael in trying to get
Monica away from Miskowski's clutches tries to stop her from meeting
him but loses track of her only to find Monica the next day at a
construction site strangled to death. Miskowski now Monica's suspected
killer gets away from Glass and the Berlin police in a sting operation
they set up for him.
It's then when the movie really turns upside down with Michael secretly
meeting with Miskowski at an empty train station. With what at first
looks like an exchange is about to be made between the two Miskowski
gets a knife in his gut killing him with Michael taking off with a
briefcase that the drug dealer had on him. In his car Michael finds out
that he was doubled-crossed by the conning Miskowski but it's now too
late for him to make things right for himself. Since Miskowski is no
longer around to tell him where the "real deal" really is.
Murder blackmail and a major plot twist are the main ingredients to
this convoluted police crime drama. That has the victim change into the
real villain in the film as we see that he's not the goody goody two
shoes that we thought that he was a the start of the movie.
Michael Karstens had very serious mental and emotional problems that he
acted out some time ago and Miskowski somehow got a hold of a number of
photos, or took them himself,that he was blackmailing him with. It also
came out, unknowingly at the time to the audience,that Monica also knew
about her step-father's secret life that in the end lead to her murder.
It was Inspector Glass who had an idea of what was the real reason for
Miskowski's death. By him keeping it from the public is what brought
Michael out in the open and thus expose his reasons for not only
killing Miskowski but the real and unnerving reason to why he did it..
Inspector Alex Glass(Armin Mueller-Stahl)is on the trail of a serial
killer who leaves Vaseline on the faces of his victims, dumping their
bodies in secluded areas. We see in the opening of the film that Glass
accidentally shoots a girl as an attempted arrest escalated into a
shoot-out with a drug dealer who gets away. Glass also is burdened by
an ex-wife who will not let him see or communicate with his daughter.
The girl is a cripple and Glass is afraid of confronting her, leaving
the little girl gifts as she tries to recuperate from her injuries.
Meanwhile, Glass deals with renovations to his dilapidated Berlin
precinct, a new associate/partner, Shirley May(Julia Kent) who he
pesters for the hell of it, and a nasty drug dealer named Miskowski(an
effective Frank Stallone, in a criminally underwritten role)who is the
leading suspect in the murder of a murdered girl who seemingly died of
an overdose. Glass has a friend and confident, lawyer Michael
Karstens(Michael York..not his finest hour, to be honest)whose own
sister was found dead, and pregnant in a meat plant freezer. When
Karstens' own daughter is found dead the same way as the other
victim(..also a ballet friend of hers), Glass will certainly have to
fend off his alcoholism and sadness to stop the killing. Another plot
development has Glass getting involved with a high-price call girl
named Lisa(Morgan Fairchild, fatally miscast and, in my opinion, hurts
the film)who has a relationship with drug dealing Mikowski, who is
black mailing an important public official which reveals the answers to
the film's ultimate mystery as to who is committing the murders.
I will admit that this is troublesomely convoluted, as mysteries often
are, despite the fact that viewers who are paying attention will
recognize who the killer is relatively early. But, Stahl's performance,
in my opinion, is a must-see. He adds little touches and quirks to his
character(..such as a funny little twitch with his nose, and little bit
with a horn mouthpiece when bored during a stake-out of a person he's
tailing)and is the kind of actor who adds dimension to a his detective
which makes him interesting and believable. Stahl could've phoned it
in, but he really makes the most of this part. Despite his flaws, Stahl
is incredibly likable and vulnerable. When he's betrayed by someone in
the plot, and is duped during the investigation, Stahl handles this
perfectly. He's not a carciature whose detective knows every move of
his quarry and has all the aces up his sleeve..I like this myself and
was happy that he doesn't make all the right decisions. Yet, Stahl's
character doesn't remain in a sulking state, and he isn't some cranky,
angry sort always barking at people as is typical by boozing,
down-on-their-luck detectives always seem in these type of films. I
also thought the film was evocatively photographed in a moody neo-noir
style capturing an effective Berlin where teenage prostitution,
buildings in ruin, drug-abuse & sordid types all bathe the city streets
where our Inspector works. Sometimes the score can be a liability,
especially when the music hammers in certain scenes, but there's some
jazz that I think added a nice little touch to the proceedings. I
didn't care for the ending..a bit strange where the climax has the
killer cornered in a meat plant where Stahl's detective sets up a
dangerous scenario which could've been handled with a bit more finesse
and an all too quaint close where Glass can appropriately exorcise that
massive demon that's been plaguing him. But, worst of all, is having us
buy into the relationship between Glass and Lisa. To be honest, Glass
has better chemistry with his partner, Shirley..this would've been a
more ideal pairing and they have a wonderful scene where they're caught
in an uncompromising position thanks to a clumsy misstep when tailing
Lisa hoping to catch up with Miskowski..