Areasonable idea for a Hungarian thriller is wasted in “Bastard” thanks to sloppy scripting and scrappy direction from veteran Ferenc Andras. Resulting mess shows just how difficult it is for many Euro filmmakers to emulate Yank genre product.
Gyorgy Cserhalmi is the rugged hero, Felician, who receives a message from his dying mother asking him to return a Bible to an old friend. But the friend is missing, and the search takes Felician to a small village where everything is run by a smooth Mafia type, Geza (Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski in a routine assignment), and where there’s also a mysterious hospital run by sinister members of a religious cult.
After battling with Geza’s bodyguards and being captured by the phony priest who runs the cult, Felician simply disappears for a long stretch, leaving his intrepid 13-year-old daughter to carry the drama along in some Pearl White cliffhanger sequences.
By this time, though, the film has degenerated into an utterly unconvincing and almost comical exercise in mayhem. For an experienced director, Andras shows a very uncertain hand; in several scenes, minor characters just stand around as if waiting to be told what to do. Pic notably lacks the punch and dynamism of even the most average Yank thriller.