A policier beset by melancholy and infused with turbulent social-political shadings, Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder almost single-handedly resuscitates the moribund serial killer genre. Based on a notorious 1986 South Korean case in which the tortured and mutilated corpses of young women were found strewn throughout the rural countryside, Bong’s superbly wrought film traces two cops – Park (Song Kang-ho), an abusive local meathead with a penchant for framing witnesses and having his partner beat confessions out of innocent suspects, and Seo (Kim Sang-kyung), a by-the-books Seoul detective – as they attempt to comprehend the method behind their murderous culprit’s madness. Despite keenly rendering investigatory procedure, the film has interests that run far deeper than an average CSI or Law & Order episode, with the story’s 1986 timeframe (during which Seoul was still governed by the ruthless Chun dictatorship) contributing to a sense that Park’s coercive techniques, his police chief’s equally vicious punishment of misbehaving cops, and the killer’s activities are all larger symptoms of the institutionalized violence grafted onto the nation’s DNA by authoritarian rule. In such a corrupted environment, Park’s brutality and Seo’s logic are both rendered impotent, a fact most strikingly visualized during a masterfully sustained tracking shot of a frustrated Park attempting to preserve a crime scene that speaks to the tale’s encompassing atmosphere of futility (as well as exhibits its frequently sly humor). Protests rage in the streets, tests of national security air-sirens blare through the night sky, and an enigmatic figure continues his methodical slaughter, with Memories of Murder’s cops left to spin their wheels in pursuit of a violent truth at once subconsciously familiar to every one of their countrymen (per the film’s title), and yet ultimately unknowable.