Exciting, Overblown Action, 8 October 2008

Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film has much going for it. Liam Neeson is a credible leading man as Bryan, the retired Special Forces Agent who is trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughter Kim, after his wife remarried.The action is exciting, relentless,and well-staged.Largely set in Paris, the locations are a welcome change from standard Hollywood fare and are well handled by Director Morel, and Writer Besson, both native Frenchmen.The big budget gives plenty of bangs for your buck -or Euro, and the 90 odd minute running time flys by with a convincing story steeped in the “revenge” genre so often played out in Westerns.

But there is also much wrong with it, which, considering the acting talent and budget, could have been put right.The language issue is horribly fudged.Sometimes French and Albanian is sub titled, sometimes it is not. Sometimes French characters speak in English, sometimes they do not. Most comic is a scene in which Neeson impersonates a French Police Officer to Albanians, in broad American English!

This unwillingness to immerse in the French culture creates other problems.Bryan has apparent close connections with the French Authorities which helps him through the plot no end, but it seriously detracts from the “stranger in a strange land” dynamic which helps a tale like this.Equally, the girls, once “taken” hardly appear again. I would gladly have lost the unnecessary 4×4 chase, shoot-out and explosions at the Albanians camp for a view of “the other side”.

Equally, the shoot outs both at the “Auction” Hotel and the Sheikhs boat are preposterous and needlessly over the top, the story would have been more effective for a bit of restraint, not less.Finally, the racial stereotyping is lazy.The Americans are good and wholesome, the French corrupt, Albanians, swarthy and evil, Arab Sheikhs, fat with exotic sexual demands. Although mainly set in Paris, rarely is there a french ambiance to proceedings or sense of “place”, in sharp contrast to the recently released “In Bruges”. No reference at all is made to the fate that befalls his daughters travelling companion.

So, an exciting enough film, enjoyable enough in its own right which should have been a lot better.

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