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Review: The Connection

The Connection
05.12.2015
5 10

PLOT: Inspired by true events, this story follows the real life French police magistrate Pierre Michel who attempts to take down a deadly drug smuggling operation.

REVIEW: In the French crime drama THE CONNECTION, you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen it before. Reminiscent of early Martin Scorsese and William Friedkin (who directed the far superior THE FRENCH CONNECTION), this 70’s period piece inspired by true events follows two different men on opposite sides of the law. The music is a mix of songs from that era as well as an inspired synth score. And the way director Cédric Jimenez moves in and around this drug fueled tale appears to be heavily inspired by both of the legendary directors. There are moments throughout that are impressive with two terrific leading men, but somehow the familiarity lessens the tension of what could have been an intense and gritty thriller.

The story begins with real life French police magistrate Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin) who is brought in to put an end to one of the most notorious drug smuggling operations in history, the French Connection. One of the main players in this massive world of underground heroin is the wealthy and powerful kingpin, Gatean “Tany” Zampa (Gilles Lellouche). In the midst of this war, many victims fall as a task force led by Michel desperately attempts to put Zampa away for good. With Zampa ably eluding the authorities, the members of his criminal family begin to fall. However, both Michel and Zampa’s worlds begin to crumble as each one becomes obsessed with the other and the drug war begins to take its toll on all those involved.

In the leading roles, both Dujardin and Lellouche offer a couple of intense performances. As Pierre Michel, Dujardin gives a very grounded performance and one that is balanced out by his loving, yet frustrated wife Jacqueline (Céline Sallette). As much as she tries to support her husband, his desperation to take down Zampa puts a heavy burden on their household. Lellouche faces his own demons as he finds it more difficult to trust those around him, and he as well must try and hold together his family. It is a fascinating dynamic having the two men both face very similar circumstances, each with justification as to why they do what they do. Not surprisingly however, Dujardin is given the more sympathetic role as a righteous man unwilling to be bought and sold in a corrupt system.

It is easy to appreciate Jamenez obvious love for classic crime thrillers. The shaky cam is never overbearing, and he is able to create some visually striking moments. However, the script - which he co-wrote with Audrey Diwan - sticks to a very basic formula. Nearly every single moment is derivative of other films. Whenever a big emotional scene arrives, it is very easy to figure out exactly what is going to happen next. From the wife getting frustrated by her magistrate husband, to the many shots of innocent - and not so innocent - folks getting shot down, it all feels a bit too formulaic. Yet occasionally, the cast offers a moment that rises above the predictable nature of events. However, the lack of suspense is a bit frustrating, and it doesn’t help the slow pace of this by the numbers story.

And while it is obvious where the story is leading the audience, the final act is surprisingly powerful. In fact, the last half hour manages to build a little bit of tension. Without giving anything away, the final moments offer one of the few surprising twists. It is a compelling end to everything that came before. If only the rest of the film had taken a few more chances in the way the story is told. Even the opening scene is impressively taut and unexpected, yet that particular moment is repeated many times over lessening the impact each and every time something similar happens.

From the intense opening scene, to the final act, this story could have been far more electrifying than it is. Thankfully, both of the leading men are able to give strong performances. It’s actually a shame that we don’t see the two on-screen together more - the two rarely interact with each other. The music and 70’s atmosphere work incredible well, but the lack of energy and the obvious nature of the events at hand fail to make this anything terribly remarkable. THE CONNECTION is a well made, but ultimately generic and predictable crime drama that never manages to rise above its influences.

Source: JoBlo.com

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10:48PM on 05/12/2015
it sure is true that Hollywood does not have the monopoly on generic and predictable fare anymore.
it sure is true that Hollywood does not have the monopoly on generic and predictable fare anymore.
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