Dario Argento returns to the genre that made him famous, or at least names a standard issue serial killer movie film after that genre . A sexy model is abducted by a disfigured, yellow-skinned, cab-driving psychopath who's been on a kidnapping and killing spree in Italy. Her sister teams up with a police detective (Adrian Brody, who has recently redefined himself as a genre movie actor and somehow still seems like he's slumming it here) to track down the killer before it's too late.
We all know that Argento lost some of the magic that he had in the 70's and 80's and will not get it back. Still, I must say up front that I am still something of an apologist for his latter-day work; I seem to be in the rare minority that thinks 2004's The Card Player was actually pretty good, and that nearly all of his recent movies have, at the very least, worthwhile or redeeming facets. So, your mileage may vary, but I think, despite having an uninspired script and being sued/buried by its star, it's not a godawful tragedy. It mostly entertained me. Brody does fine in a ridiculous role (grizzled Italian cop with a bizarre past, which includes an explanation for why he speaks with an American accent [they never do explain why everyone is Italy is speaking English, though]). There's an acceptable amount of ridiculous violence, a lot of good designer filth set design a la Se7en, and some effective chase and stalk sequences. It also has a great germ of an idea for a dark ending that would leave the audience hanging, but it cop outs on that ending and throws in a pointless, abrupt resolution.
But, what the fuck? He made a movie named Giallo that doesn't really feel like one of his old giallos. I know lately in his career he's softened some of his edges, maybe in effort to play up more of his classy, Hitchcockian side, but this movie has almost no trace of his unique sensibilities. One scene, a dream sequence/flashback, is filmed with a weirdly see-sawing camera, but other than that there are none of the bold, visually baroque touches one normally associates with his films. The plot is straightforward (there's not even a whodunit) and avoids the oddball digressions and dream logic of his best films. And since he doesn't come through with that special Argento magic, it means you won't be as forgiving of the problems here that you'd ignore in his other films: bad acting, plot contrivances, awkward dialogue.
Mother of Tears was a deeply, obviously flawed film, but at least it was unmistakably an Argento film. Giallo seems like it could have been made by, well, more or less anyone who makes low budget thrillers.