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Simon Read [Film Festival 06.19.10] France movie review action thriller crime

Year: 2010
Directors: Richard Berry
Writers: Richard Berry & Mathieu Delaporte & Franz-Olivier Giesbert (novel) & Alexandre de La Patellière (adaptation)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

"I'm in a strange business, once you get in you can really never get out."

Jean Reno gets shot 22 times by his French gangster rivals, gets pissed, gets revenge. This is the basic premise of 22 Bullets, a film that sees Reno giving a wink to his great performance in Leon The Professional and dishing out some old school revenge. Having 'retired' from his days as a vicious gangster in order to spend more time with his wife and family, the past catches up with him in the run-up to an all out gang war. Does it work? Parts do. Read on if you'd like to know more.

Charly visits his mother with his young son and they share an enchanting afternoon together, and after she gives them some of her home made jam they drive back to the city singing along to Charly's favourite opera CD. At the underground lot where they park, a van with five guys in masks armed to the teeth suddenly roars up to them and start blasting Charly at point blank range, speeding off and leaving him for dead. Miraculously he survives and, aided by his family and some friends and connections from the old days, he manages to recover in hospital while the police question and monitor him for any signs that he's still in the game.

Police Inspector Marie Goldman (Marina Fois) is on the case and she'll stop at nothing to use Charly to expose the Kingpins of the drug trade in Marseille - a trade Charly never wanted anything to do with and which caused him leave. As he recovers and after he's sent home, Charly realises that the very people he's trusting to protect him may well be involved with the attempt to kill him. Who can he trust? Well, blood is thicker than even French wine...

This is a big budget French movie with great ambitions but not a very big brain, which can be fun, but at two hours it's pretty taxing (especially if it's the third film in a row after a very hot festival day!). Multiple endings and a convoluted and over the top plot makes for some great action, but as it was wrapping-up I was checking my watch and staring at the ceiling. As much as I love Jean Reno, his performance isn't particularly note worthy, although the supporting cast of unknown-to-me French actors played their roles well and hit all the right notes. There some great set-pieces and veteran film and television director Richard Berry handles the action well with one scene involving Reno riding a motorbike while being chased by mafia hoods, and actually crashing into a police station to avoid capture, being very good fun. There is also a scene where he has to crawl through half a kilometer of barbed wire while watching his son being slapped around and hauled into the boot of a BMW. Ouch.

Similar in tone to films like Lock Stock or Lucky Number Sleven, it's a fun ride - but you really have to be prepared for material that would have been better served as a 90 minute popcorn flick but has been stretched to 120 minutes and given a melodramatic, extended ending.

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