By Merle Bertrand | November 8, 2002

What would you do if you had about one week’s worth of a normal life left to you before the onset of a horrible and debilitating terminal disease? For hard-charging rookie detective Emmett Young (Scott Wolf), there’s only one answer: he’ll leave his mark by solving his first — and only — murder case.
There’s a twist, however; one of many in this well-constructed drama by director Keith Snyder. Shortly after learning of his grim diagnosis, Emmett meets up with an intriguing stranger at a bar. Jack Marlowe (Gabriel Byrne) is his name and he makes Emmett an unusual offer: he claims he knows a guy who will, for a price, assassinate Emmett quickly and painlessly at an unknown random time as an alternative to the horrendous death the young detective otherwise faces. Emmett finally agrees on the condition that the assassin gives him at least three days to crack his murder case. But when Emmett learns just a day before the window for his potential assassination opens that he’s been falsely diagnosed; that he’s NOT about to die after all, it launches him into two deadly races against time. Not only must Emmett catch a brutal serial killer before he strikes again, but he must somehow reach Marlowe to call off his own assassination as well.
A little implausible, perhaps, and all a bit too convenient in its design, “Emmett’s Mark” is nonetheless a reasonably well crafted thriller. Though it leans to the predictable side, the film’s twists and turns are still a fun ride. Byrne pulls off his usual elegant smarminess and even Wolf holds his own in a role seemingly tailor-made for Michael J. Fox had this film been made ten or fifteen years ago. The subtle star of this film however, is easily Tim Roth, who’s flat out chilling as Emmett’s sullen and cold hired killer…and maybe more.
“Emmett’s Mark” finds itself caught in a weird nether world. Too slick and laden with name actors to pass itself off as an indie, yet much more low key and cerebral than the typical testosterone-fueled Hollywood actioner, it will be tough for “Emmett’s Mark” to make its mark. That’s a shame, because this solid, well-crafted film is a kick to watch.

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