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Dissecting the Director: Louis Leterrier

04.03.2012by: Marcey Papandrea

"LOUIS LETERRIER"

Louis Leterrier kind of sprung out of nowhere some 10 years ago, working with Corey Yuen (the fabulous director of 80’s classic NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER) on the smash hit THE TRANSPORTER! The action/thriller film was a bucket load of fun and it solidified Jason Statham as an action man and able to carry a film. Since then Leterrier has had a pretty solid career, helming some pretty epic titles. I really enjoy what he has to offer; he’s a fun director and has a great style.

BEST WORK


Get The Incredible Hulk on DVD here
Get The Incredible Hulk on Blu-ray here

THE INCREDIBLE HULK served as sort of a re-launch and a sequel to Ang Lee’s THE HULK, and for me this one blew that one out of the water. Everything about it was fresh and new and the action was on a grand scale and it had heart and emotion. I wouldn’t have pegged Leterrier for something like this, but man did he pull it off! This is easily his best work, and one of my favourite recent superhero flicks.

The new cast worked well, Edward Norton was the strangest choice but he made a strong Bruce Banner and there seemed to be an understanding between actor and director for the most part. With Norton being a very hands-on type of guy, I think there needed to be a partnership in place. Leterrier also eyed Tim Roth for the villain role and it turned out his instincts were right on the mark as he proved to be quite perfect as Emil Blonsky. Liv Tyler was great as Betty and William Hurt rocked it as General Ross. I enjoyed this cast and they really were instrumental in this film working as well as it did.

The story really worked as it strayed away from what had come before it and really placed itself into a new universe, which along with Iron Man became the new Marvel landscape. Leterrier knew what had to be done and again those instincts along with what Marvel had in mind worked. The film is paced quite well, it hits all the right points and it never really drags. The drama isn’t over done and the action scenes are exciting. The visuals are pretty cool and I like Leterrier’s style and it really fitted in well with this. The film did decent business, and it was hit and miss for the audience, some preferred Ang Lee’s while others preferred this. At the end of the day for me, THE INCREDIBLE HULK had all the right ingredients and it is a highly enjoyable and well-made film.

WORST WORK


Get Clash Of The Titans on DVD here
Get Clash Of The Titans on Blu-ray here

This was a toss up between THE TRANSPORTER 2 and CLASH OF THE TITANS, however I had to go with CLASH because that film was a huge let down and THE TRANSPORTER 2 while not that great was still watchable and it didn’t put me to sleep.

It took me several attempts to actually make it through CLASH, the first try I fell asleep 15 minutes in and well each subsequent time I kept dozing off until I finally made it through. I really didn’t like this film, it was a complete mess and it just didn’t flow well and I had trouble keeping up with what was meant to be going on.

For a film with such well developed and realised visuals it was completely boring and uninteresting. The story was there somewhere but I wasn’t invested in it and I didn’t care about the characters. There was nothing to draw me in, and even the actors seem disinterested. Sam Worthington the star even came out and said he thought he did a terrible job, and yes Sam you really did. He proved that feeling right by admitting that, and I just have to wonder where the heart was behind this? Did Leterrier really care? It sure felt like he didn’t and neither did anyone else really, this was just another run of the mill mythological blockbuster.

Leterrier who had proved himself a very capable director, really dropped the ball here. I wanted to like and enjoy this but despite my best attempts it didn’t win me over, and honestly it was just a poor effort. I know this man is able to do more and craft something better, it is a shame it didn’t happen with this one despite the strong potential.

TRADEMARKS


Get The Transporter on DVD here
Get The Transporter on Blu-ray here

Leterrier isn’t a man who really relies on trademarks, but he is someone who does use visuals to help tell the story. He certainly likes things to be grand in scale, and he has done this with all of his films. The man has worked with Luc Besson a few times, directed a few that Besson had written and he worked with him on JOAN OF ARC as Production Assistant.

There is a certain amount of grittiness that goes with a Leterrier film; each one just has that element in there. I think he likes to have a strong lead character, each is crafted different but are ones that the audience can get behind and they act as a kind of hero.

HIDDEN GEM


Get Unleashed on DVD here
Get Unleashed on Blu-ray here

This choice was simple – UNLEASHED aka DANNY THE DOG. This film showed up out of nowhere and blew me away! Jet Li, Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman had me sold and with it being an action/martial arts type, it really did have my name on it.

I remember waiting for it to get to DVD after having seen a trailer, I had heard nothing about it, but I knew I wanted to see it. When it finally came out and I watched it, I was not disappointed. The story was interesting, it certainly engaged me and I loved how the protagonist was the worst of the worst and our hero was a sympathetic character, it worked extremely well. The main character of Danny played by Jet Li was very unique and I think not only did he handle it well; he gave a really great performance.

I liked the concept of having a person sort of treated and raised like a dog, a really grabbing and disturbing concept. With him escaping from that and trying to adjust to life as we know it, we naturally get a ‘fish out of water’ scenario but there was just something so innocent about it and it honestly didn’t once feel tiresome. The connection between Li and Freeman was something special, and who knew these two would have chemistry? Their characters certainly grew once they came into each other’s lives, in a way they were the missing link that each needed. Hoskins can do good guy and bad guy, and he really nailed the bastard role. I hated his character but loved the performance all the same, some really great stuff.

For Leterrier to make something so fantastic, and it being only his second outing as a director and his first solo effort, it really showed his natural talent and that this is a man we should be keeping our eyes on.

NEXT PROJECT

Leterrier is currently filming NOW YOU SEE ME, set for release next year. It is a thriller and it currently has a pretty impressive cast including Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine and Mélanie Laurent.

Plot synopsis: FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

Sounds interesting and this is the type of film I like to see Leterrier tackling!

OVERALL


Get The Transporter 2 on DVD here
Get The Transporter 2 on Blu-ray here

Aside from CLASH, I think Leterrier is an exciting and highly enjoyable director. He is one of the more memorable names from the recent crop to show up, and I do think he’ll continue to make good and watchable films. I really had fun with both TRANSPORTER flicks, love the heck out of UNLEASHED and THE INCREDIBLE HULK and I can’t wait to see more. He works best as a man who does action and thriller, and I’d advise him to steer clear of the fantasy genre at least for a while. I want to say congrats and thank you to the man who has kept me entertained over these past 10 years, and wish him all the best with what he comes up with next.

Is there a director you hope to see Dissected? Feel free to send Marcey your suggestions to marcey@joblo.com

Extra Tidbit: Louis Leterrier was interested in directing IRON MAN, but the job went to Jon Favreau. Avi Arad then offered THE INCREDIBLE HULK to Leterrier who accepted the gig.
Tags: dissecting

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