The French Connection - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The French Connection Reviews

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½ January 5, 2017
I had never seen this much lauded movie from 1971 about New York City police detectives intercepting a heroin shipment from France.
The first thing that struck me when watching the film was the grimness of 1970s New York City, its highways, streets and subway are excellently captured by the director with its sounds of street horns replacing the need for a soundtrack.
The main characters are police officers Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and his slightly younger partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider).
Hackman and Scheider both look so young when I consider there later roles in films such as Jaws (Scheider) and the Superman franchise (Hackman).
Popeye (not the cartoon character!) is an overtly racist, streetwise cop whilst Russo is the calming influence in the partnership!
The drug side is led by Marseilles entrepreneur Charnier (Fernando Rey), the late Spanish Rey is perhaps best known for his work on some of Luis Buñuel films and has a filmography as big as anyone!
Tony Lo Bianco who I only watched last week in the cult classic The Honeymoon Killers also has a role.
The grime of New York is contrasted with the opulance of Marseilles and a brief scene in Washington DC.
A chase sequence featuring a gas guzzling car of the era against an overhead Subway train is memorable for its editing and realism.
The film won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor (Hackman) and editing Oscars.
Whilst good I don't actually rate it as good as Dirty Harry starring Clint Eastwood. Again perhaps its is the grime of a cold, winter New York versus the relative sunshine of San Francisco?
Also the film ends pretty downbeat with drugs being smuggled into New York via a Lincoln car, Charnier escaping the law and a ruined building scene.
January 2, 2017
The release of "The French Connection" more than anything, seems very timely. Nixon first used the term "the War on Drugs" to describe the systematic (and subliminally racial and politically focused) crackdown on the illegal drug trade at a press conference in June 1971. "The French Connection" had a release date a mere four months later. It doesn't seem coincidental that the film portrays the police as a staunch force for good pitted against a Black drug-consuming underbelly and an encroaching foreign presence trying to taint the American way of life. On the surface, this seems like a Nixonian wet dream, and it's probably one of the reasons it was so devoured upon its original release.

Under the surface, though, we see the toll this takes upon law enforcement and the public at large. In pursuit of a $31 million heroine deal, Gene Hackman's Det. "Popeye" Doyle slowly loses his sanity and perspective of what his role as a police officer is in the first place. During the iconic train pursuit, he steals a car, wrecks it several times, and puts the Brooklyn pedestrian population in needless danger. His mind focuses only on the bust and everything else is consequential. That alone makes the final seconds of the film that more psychologically brutal.

We can take Doyle's struggle and superimpose it on the War on Drugs itself. What is the cost to reward ratio in outlawing narcotics and targeting minority and liberal communities by proxy? No one at the time had that much foresight, but in retrospect "The French Connection" makes a poignant commentary. 7.9/10
½ October 16, 2016
To quote DiCaprio in Django Unchained, "gentlemen, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention". As the 1971 best picture and director winner, it had my curiosity, and 10 minutes in it had my attention. The New York street had a picture perfect Atmosphere, and the train chase sequence was one of the most memorable scenes in any crime movie. If I had to make a list of the 40 best picture winners, this would be in the top 20.
September 22, 2016
10 out of 10:

Great action and acting makes The French Connection a tense police thriller.
September 18, 2016
Gritty and seriously entertaining classic!
August 29, 2016
The 70s political, action classic that has a awesome car chase with Gene Hackman being himself, The French Connection is nowhere as great of any action film ever
August 3, 2016
Some of the best car chases you'll ever see on film and an unforgettable character in "Popeye" Doyle. Amazing movie.
½ July 13, 2016
A police thriller which has stood the test of time and showed other moviemakers how it should be done, The French Connection was a film that excited me at times and frustrated me at others. The highlights include the raw, passionate central performance from Gene Hackman as the play-by-his-own-rules cop, sometime before it became a cliché, the steady build of the first half, but most of all the now-legendary car chase through the streets of New York. It's tense, fast-paced, shot beautifully and has a brutal, kinetic energy that had me on the edge of my seat throughout. The drawbacks include an unnecessarily long runtime and a very meandering plot, with several parts of it feeling directionless. It has a pretty sporadic musical score too, with some scenes having no music at all and others having too much. Ironically it's the scenes with no music which I found the most enjoyable, as they rely on all natural sounds, creating a much more realistic atmosphere. It's a seminal movie that ruled the genre at the time, and dictated how future films would be made.
½ July 11, 2016
Visually engrossing with its documentary-style cinematography of 1970 New York, with all its cold but oddly beautiful urban realism.

The long and silent stakeout and foot pursuit scenes commanded my rapt attention.
July 10, 2016
"The French Connection" is a gritty, hard-edged, tough as nails, and savagely smart police thriller led by the thrilling direction of William Friedkin and a superb performance from Gene Hackman. When the chase scene comes, this one holds nothing back.
½ June 15, 2016
A seminal crime movie from the early 1970s, the French Connection has so many iconic images that set the tone for many such movies for years to come. This is a "warts-and-all" production where the leading character is seen as a flawed and not terribly likeable character who despite his shortcomings, is brilliant at his job. Gene Hackman plays the character of "Popeye" Doyle with great style and skill, making him as believable and ruthless as he is interesting. The grimy underbelly of New York in the late 1960s and early 70s is an unglamorous and crime riddled backdrop to the action which focuses on the attempts of a criminal gang to open up a transatlantic drug route. Doyle and his team have been working hard to kill the drug trade in the city and become suspicious when they see a small time crook living the highlife and holding secret talks with a group of visiting French businessmen. It's a gritty, hard-nosed tale with some terrific action and a great pace. The direction, though dated, is taught and the delivery and setting is realistic. It is amazing to see just how much New York has changed since this movie was made 40 years ago, it really is almost unrecognisable. Just be aware that the movie does end on a cliff-hanger which doesn't get resolved until the sequel but at least these days, you don't have to wait the three years it took them to make The French Collection II before finding out what happens.
½ June 14, 2016
NY detectives investigate a drug kingpin in which heroin is being smuggled from Europe into the U.S. This action thriller still lives on as one of the best cop films all time.
June 12, 2016
A good crime caper film.
June 7, 2016
William Friedkin pulls together thrilling action with effective storytelling in this police drama that serves as a vehicle for Gene Hackman's talent.
½ May 8, 2016
Watched this on 8/5/16
The late 60s and the 70s changed American cinema (Glory days of New Hollywood Era) with daring realism in their films and finally took the Hollywood dazzle out of these films until Star Wars IV came and did a U-turn that resulted in studio controlled films meant for 10 year olds ever since. In this context, French Connection is a landmark achievement for the changing 70s cinema as well as the best work from William Friedkin. The film, although starts off slow, carries terrific pacing and tight, thrilling scenes. The cinematography, score and the lead actors all add to its taste.
May 4, 2016
The French Connection (1971) ????
Exhilarating (almost overwhelming) action movie about narcotics cops in N.Y.C. who attempt to pull the plug on a major drug deal (it's essentially one long chase). Stellar film leads to chilling conclusion; Hackman is truly unforgettable. Some movie fans consider this to also have the most exciting car chase ever. Five Oscars: Picture, Actor, Director, Script, Editing. Followed by a sequel.
April 24, 2016
gritty, slick, and great in every way. This movie is worth your 1hr. and 40 min. of your life.
April 22, 2016
The trailer to this movie wasn't amusing nor was the first 15 minutes with laughable dialogues and caricature type characters. Everything changes instantly and soon taken over by intense screenplay and performances mixed with an exhilarating tail and chase sequence building up to a clever and perfect climax. This movie can be referred as a lesson on how perseverance can pay.

Doyle (Gene Hackman) is a cop in the narcotics bureau who is often criticized for his backfired hunches but well supported by his chief along with his partner Russo (Roy Scheider). Doyle and Russo come across a charismatic couple Boca's in a bar and tails them since they had a bad feeling. Their observation provides leads into some unknown shady deal about to happen. All this seems connected to a Frenchman Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) but the details are still hazy. But Doyle's perseverance and unconventional work ethics helps to put pieces together.

Firstly a special commendation should go for the intense and exhilarating chase sequence between a car and a hijacked train. A role of an obsessed cop or a detective is nothing new but when played by someone as talented as Gene Hackman it just gets better. Hackman plays the role with measured intensity, carelessness, obsession and a sense of humor. Roy Scheider gives an apt supporting role while Fernando Rey is very inconsistent ebbing and surging the character's image constantly. Background score isn't too loud which is otherwise very common for thrillers during its era while the photography is very enjoyable with its perfect wide shots and intense maneuvering for additional thrills. The graphic violence lacks technical prowess succumbing to a low quality finished product in a couple of scenes. Though a little disconnected in the beginning, the screenplay pulls up from its lull intensifying and ends up playing the winning role for the movie.

If it ends well, all is well
April 16, 2016
One of the best police dramas...
March 30, 2016
The French Connection stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider as two narcotic police officers on the hunt for a heroin dealer who has been recently dealing in New York City. I really enjoyed this movie. Just the overall tone of the film and how it was made in the 70s already beings a different vibe while viewing. The direction in the film is very well done. William Friedkin captures the realistic setting extremely well that it sets up for a solid crime thriller. The pace is surprisingly fast also. Along with the fascinating story, we are given pristine action sequences, intriguing dialogue, great performances. Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider are so fun to watch. Their characters are bitter. gritty, and high spirited. The French Connection comes as basic as it gets and that's all this film needed.
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