Leon Kaufmann is a struggling photographer - determined to make it big without selling out. He prowls night-time New York in search of the iconic image of the city's dark side that could make him a household name.
A chance encounter on a subway station platform with a well dressed, but hard-faced, man sparks an obsession in Kaufmann. He pursues the man, believing him responsible for series of disappearances from late night trains. His paranoia about the man is well founded. Mahogany (the well-dressed man) commits the most brutal of acts on the subway, beating his victims to death and then butchering them.
Ex-soccer player Vinnie Jones is perfect as Mahogany. He has the perfect look for a deranged serial killer. But it's the focus on Kaufmann (Bradley Cooper) that makes the film work. Cooper plays the progression from career-desperation into obsession about the subway killer wonderfully.
This is a film for the Saw fan, rather than the fan of psychological scares or Freddy-style total gorefest. It's not going to unnerve you; suspense isn't on the cards. And although there's considerable violence here (it gets very bloody at times) it's not relentless. There's more too it - a fairly good plot for one thing, including a decent amount of intrigue. (How many people are involved in this?)
It's a good film, no doubt about it. But it could have been better. More should have been made of the reasons why it's all happening. The reveal at the end answers some but not all of your questions. There are also issues concerning Mahogany that are left hanging (his medical condition for one). You reach the end of the movie with several things unexplained and it's frustrating.
These are minor gripes only though - this film has a lot to recommend it. Watch it - you could do a lot worse!
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Actors: Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields, Roger Bart
Label: Lions Gate
Length: 100 minutes
DVD Release: February 2009