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By Eric Campos | July 10, 2003

Since the release of “Seven,” Hollywood has been trying to shove poorly made clones (starring Morgan Freeman even) of David Fincher’s frightening thriller down our throats. But we’re not accepting a Shirley Temple after we’ve just had a Long Island Ice Tea, right? I sure as hell hope not. Well, here’s a German attempt at the dark and gritty homicide thriller. Robert Schwentke’s “Tattoo” tries desperately to get underneath our skin, and actually succeeds somewhat throughout the first half of the film, but then gives way to a bit of a goofy plot twist and a totally disappointing ending.
“Tattoo” opens with a naked woman wandering down a highway. She doesn’t look too happy and we discover the reason why as we’re shown that she has had a huge chunk of skin carved out of her back. I’d be bummed, too. But then she gets hit by a bus, putting an end to her bad day. During the autopsy, severed fingers are found in the woman’s stomach and the death is determined as a murder.
Enter police detectives Marc (the rookie) and Minks (the edgy cop, whose seen a lot of brutal s**t in his years, and has a dead wife and an AWOL daughter to boot) as they try and solve the bizarre murder. Their investigation leads them to find that a serial killer is out there cutting out the tattoos of his victims. The movie works best when you’re trying to figure out, along with the detectives, what the motive is behind these killings. Once the tattoo bandit’s motive is discovered (about midway into the film), you can feel your interest fade, whereas before you were glued to the screen, and then comes the ending which provides no shock or surprise or…anything really. Throughout the movie, you have in your head about three or four people that could be the possible bad guy. Once you’re shown who it is, most definitely one of your choices is correct, and that’s the end. No big thrill.
“Tattoo” is a nice try for sure. It looks great, has an excellent cast and is effectively creepy at first. But try as it does, it just winds up falling into the lame generic Hollywood homicide thriller mold. They should’ve gotten Morgan Freeman to stand around shaking his head and interjecting a bit of wisdom that nobody wants to hear every once in a while and it would’ve been perfect.

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