I can’t remember the last time I said “Oh, no” in utter despair. Oh wait, I can. I said it about 10 times during the movie Fire of Conscience. Why did I say it? The film managed to have many moments where you just cannot believe some event is going to happen. It’s like watching a train wreck or squishing a spider under a book. You don’t want to look, but you are compelled by forces unknown to make sure that spider is really dead. Then, when you do lift the book, the spider turns out to still be alive and very, very mad. By the time it eats your face off you can’t look away because it devoured your eyes. That’s not a bad thing. It just illustrates the roller-coaster thrillride of a film that Fire of Conscience manages to be. Let me explain.
Roller coasters usually have a sequence of track going up, the cresting of the hill, and then the drop down. Fire of Conscience has the same, except the track disappears on the way down, and you can see that it is missing on the way up. The rest of the way up you panic and call for help, but none arrives. The film beautifully delivers such moments during its intense gunfights. In one scene, the bad guys throw a bunch of grenades towards a group of policemen they are engaging in a vicious firefight. The camera tracks the grenades bouncing and rolling across the floor, in slow motion, accompanied by a clank every time it hit the ground. It rolls straight into the group of policemen, who stare at it in horror and disbelief for what seems like an eternity. You hold your breath in absolute horror. All you can do is wait: wait not in anticipation, but hope: hope that something will happen to save the policemen.
Shrapnel shoots out. Dust flies everywhere. The force of the explosion rips a man apart. People die. Before you can relax, the roller coaster resumes: the gunfight begins all over again, with a new found fervor as both sides intently try to kill each other.
As you can tell, the gunfights in the film are absolutely great and keep you at the edge of your seat. At times, it pushes you off and leaves you on the floor of the theater in fetal position, calling for your mommy. Don’t even bother getting up because you’re just going to be there again at the next gunfight.
Why are they fighting? Well, I can’t really give you much details. A convoluted plot that moves rather quickly ties the extreme gunfights together. A policeman is accused of murdering a prostitute. Meanwhile, a gang sells small arms and forces a civilian bombmaker to make a bomb by kidnapping his pregnant wife. A dirty cop tries to get out of debt by stealing a box of evidence from an armored car with the help of the gang and the new bomb. His wife roots for him. That’s as far as I could understand. A lot of questions remained unanswered by the end: why did they need the bomb when the cop could get the key for everything? Why is the cop in so much debt? Why murder the prostitute? Is the murder related to the evidence? What’s in the evidence box? What happened with the guy in the hat? All these unanswered questions left my understanding of the plot looking like Swiss cheese.
Maybe I didn’t understand it because of the subtitles. The darker, grittier look of this film made the subtitles easy to read, but they were probably simplified translations. How can I tell? At one point, the good guy says to the bad guy: “Many people died because of you.” Understatement of the century. I guess it is forgivable though, since the action was pretty good and the plot SEEMED intriguing.
Fire of Conscience is one of those films where you have to see it just for the gunfights and explosions. It’s a thrill to watch specifically because of the shooting sequences. The shoestring plot seemed to move too quickly and was held together by something only a little more adhesive than a piece of used tape, but it provided enough of a back story to make it seem more than a bunch of random clips strewn together. The action manages to carry the film through its structurally weak plot, so even if you don’t care about the storyline, the intense action and gunfights are enough to make Fire of Conscience a recommended watch.