22 Bullets Richard Berry

22 Bullets Richard Berry
Politically and artistically speaking, France has been seriously pissed off for over a decade, ushering in the gore-horror and id-driven revenge genres, much to the misguided delight of Western audiences. Sure, they're still making quiet odes to existential ennui with Juliette Binoche and Kristen Scott Thomas every once in awhile, but clearly the racial and religious tensions, exacerbated by geography, history and the immigration laws of surrounding nations, have created a faction of emotionally-driven conservative rage. Much like U.S./France co-production Taken (and the decidedly less subtle From Paris with Love), 22 Bullets tackles the issue of gangland corruption and the criminal element via pure, unfettered vigilante justice, removing the vacuum of political correctness and cumbersome idealism from the equation. Jean Reno plays Charly Mattei, a retired gangster living the quiet life with his wife and two children. All is uprooted when lifelong best friend Tony Zacchia (Kad Merad), still working the crime world, has his cronies shoot him full of the titular 22 bullets, leaving him for dead in a parking garage. With perfunctory drug-related rationale doled out in an expository sense, Charly recovers and goes on a kill-crazy rampage, slaying each of the men involved in his assassination attempt, whining ever so slightly about his sullied Clark Kent/Lex Luthor friendship. Beyond the obvious political implications of having French and Algerian BFFs become enemies over issues of morality, very little of this less deliberately contrived Kill Bill has the ire to justify its protracted and gratuitous violence. A polished aesthetic and generalized competency in assembling action set pieces mask much of the blasé familiarity, but ostensibly, this is a film with absolutely nothing going on beyond genre repetition and male posturing. Even minor idiosyncrasies come off as prosaic, with the main villain suffering aura migraines and stuttering during mercurial rants, going the Gary Oldman route, sans Gary Oldman. The special features on the DVD are in French-only, featuring the usual interviews and panegyrical praises. (eOne)