This bullet-riddled French-language B-movie from Michele Placido suffers from a serious crisis of identity.
Italian director Michele Placido bookends his recent run of middling period gangster epics (Romanzo Criminale, Angel Of Evil), to direct this middling cops and robbers yarn which awkwardly mutates into a serial killer manhunt B-movie at the half-way point and then back again.
Daniel Auteuil is grizzled, never-say-die copper Mattei who's all set and ready to pounce on a gang of bank robbers as they execute their latest heist. But before the cuffs lock shut, sniper bullets rain down over the scene, enabling the robbers to make a mad (if unsuccessful) dash.
It's discovered that the sniper's name is Kominski (Mathieu Kassovitz), but that his motivations for helping out the hoods are not that clear-cut, leading us down a musty rabbit hole of local gang bosses, petty crims and a whackjob serial killer who enjoys listening to Edith Piaf through vintage cans in his spare time.
For a film that barely clocks in at 90 minutes, there's far too much going on and cast of hundreds to which you must thinly spread your interest. New, unannounced characters crop up in each scene, alliances remain fuzzy through out and the drive of the narrative is seriously stymied by the odd flashback that's thrown in for good measure.
The one thing Placido does right is the action scenes, and there are big, bullet-riddled set pieces at the beginning, middle and end which just about keep the eyelids open. As much as the director appears to have been influenced by the likes of Michael Mann, there are also tinges of sniper-based computer games thrown in there too, especially in the final showdown in which Auteuil takes jumpy pot-shots onto the streets of Paris, trying his best to avoid whacking out an innocent bystander.
But these are minuscule pleasures in what is a movie whose story appears to consist of garish catalogue of machismo-fulled showdowns in increasingly grim and dull locations.
Cine Lumiere only
Director Michele Placido has yet to make a great movie. Will this be the one?
On the contrary. A genre b-picture with a serious lack of focus. Some passable action sequences, mind.
Not a complete right-off. But almost.