An excellent looking production set during 1953 in Stalinist Czechoslovakia.
A Detective with the Police is drawn into what seems to be a simple burglary case. The Detective, Ivan Trojan, roots around and soon comes up with a prime suspect. The man is soon under wraps at the station. Now Trojan finds that the case is anything but simple. The boys from State Security show up and put the grab on the suspect. Trojan is told that the case has already been solved and to stop investigating. Trojan however just can't play along, and soon discovers that there is a big government conspiracy at work.
The Communist Czech Government is planning on currency devaluation even though they are denying this. This action will literally make the savings of Czech citizens worthless. To cover up this action, they are having a series of show trials. The Communists have set up a long con and are framing many of the remaining Jews left in the country. They tell the press that the Jews are smuggling cash and gold out of the country to send to Israel.
Now Trojan happens onto the scene of a post office robbery. There are 4 dead and a large amount of cash is gone. Again, the State Security bunch arrive on site, without even being called. They chase Trojan away and again tell him it is a State matter. Trojan has managed to retrieve a shell casing and a spent bullet from the scene. He tells the Security men nothing about this.
Trojan has the bullet tested and now finds the caliber is only used by State Security agents. What is going on he wonders. Does he stop looking? Of course not, he is a cop of the old school. He had been a cop before the war, and before the Reds took over.
Needless to say, as Trojan still continues to investigate, the bodies continue to pile up. He and his family are now on the receiving end of several less than subtle warnings. The wife is "mugged" and ends up in hospital. Trojan realizes that he is being followed. In the mix here is former German SS Officer, Sebastian Koch. Koch is now working for his Soviet captors on the case. He is helping set up the so called Zionist plot to smuggle currency. He is doing this because he was offered a return home to Germany.
The viewer can see that the warnings etc are not going to have the desired result with Trojan. The man is bound and determined to find the real reasons for the murders, robberies and show trials. It will be the death of him.
While there are a few plot holes in the story, the look and feel of the film is top-flight. The dark streets, rain, dingy settings are all put to good use by the director, David Ondrícek. The cinematography by, Adam Sikora, is simply awe inspiring. It is noir through and through. The cast is all excellent as well, with Trojan shining as the world weary type who just cannot let go.
Well worth a look. The film was an entry for Oscar nods, though it was not actually nominated.
Many thanks to our own Gary Deane for putting me onto this one.