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1970s Marseille is ruled by a brutal drug gang importing morphine from Turkey, transforming it into heroin and exporting the product to New York under the gang name la French. The gang, led by the cold-hearted Gaètan Tany Zampa (Gilles Lellouche), is boosting its income from drug trafficking by doing extortion and robberies. Former Juvenile Court judge Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin) is transferred to an organized crime unit, but finds out that la French's crimes are difficult or impossible to prove and that the police unit investigating heroin trade under Captain Aimé-Blanc has nothing relevant to report. Following a tip given by one of Michel's informants, the heroin-addicted teenager Lily, they arrest Charles Peretti, an old Corsican chemist who formerly produced heroin for la French. After he refuses to give information about the gang and its leader, preferring to spend the rest of his life in prison rather than risk his life by collaborating with police, the gang murders Lily and her friend, Fabrizio Mandonato, Peretti's nephew. Enraged by Tany killing his informers and because he can find out nothing relevant about the gang, Michel orders all lower cadres of la French arrested, "cutting the octopus' arms". Feeling menaced by the aggressive behaviour of the new judge, one of Tany's lieutenants, "Le Fou" (Benoît Magimel), breaks with the gang leader. While trying to take over Zampa's criminal business, Le Fou is shot and wounded by Zampa and his men, but escapes from hospital and begins a bloody feud, killing two of the gang's leaders, Franky and Robert, both close friends of Tany. Enraged and grieving, Tany retaliates by brutally killing Le Fou's girlfriend and numerous innocent bystanders. Fearing the criminal feud will take more lives and appealing to the procurator, Michel manages to get illegal surveillance on all the criminals involved in the feud, successfully avoiding the confrontation between Tany and Le Fou and arresting Le Fou...
Rotten Tomatoes consensus reads, "The Connection doesn't do itself any favors by forcing comparisons to The French Connection, but it's a reasonably entertaining thriller in its own right." Reviewer Rudolph Herzog from Newsweek stated that the film, "Set in the 1970s,...captures the gutter charm of a town [Marseilles] that was never cleaned up and is as poisonous as it is attractive." Film critic Liam Lacey from the Canadian national newspaper Globe and Mail called the film a "...byzantine, if ultimately conventional, heroic tale that feels like a guided tour down a familiar alley", giving the movie a 2.5/4 score. Reviewer Ty Burr from the Boston Globe called the film "...a stylish affair, very solidly made if not exactly breaking new ground in our understanding of events or in the way the movies depict them" and gave it a 2.5/4 score. Critic Bill Goodykoontz from the Arizona Republic stated while that the film "...may prove too slow for some and the meandering can be a little maddening,... overall it's worth the effort. Goodykoontz gave the film a 3.5/5 score. Film critic Soren Anderson from the Seattle Times stated that the film "...starts with gunshots - a Mercedes and its driver are riddled by motorcycle-riding assassins in broad daylight - and the pace of "The Connection" is bang-bang brisk most of the rest of the way"; he gave the film a 3/4 score. Colin Covert from the Minneapolis Star Tribune stated that while the "...story lacks focus here and there, the film never feels overplayed. It's a work of bloody style and solid substance"; Covert gave the movie a 3.5/4 score. Critic Stephanie Merry from the Washington Post stated that the film "...isn't all that different from a lot of police procedurals that have come before, but there's something about this particular gritty true-crime story that still fascinates all these years later"; Merry gave the film a 3/4 score. Reviewer Tom Long from the Detroit News gave a negative review of the film, writing that "Gangster movies should not [just] be mildly interesting", which is how he found the movie; Long gave the film a C-. Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "[r]iveting from its first moments,...fascinating in its presentation of character, as well as for its glimpse into the workings of an international drug empire and into the ways an imaginative cop found to chip at its power"; LaSalle gave the movie a 4/4 score. Film critic Cary Darling from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram stated that while "...there are no elaborate car chases or dizzyingly choreographed shootouts[,]...it's nonetheless a compelling portrait of two men in a specific time and place"; Darling gave the movie a score of 4/5. Critic Tom Huddleston from Time Out noted the film's "...schnozz-tacular array of craggy-faced macho men" and gave the film a score of 3/5. Peter Rainer from the Christian Science Monitor stated that the film suffers from a "...common problem in crime-centric movies: The bad guys are almost always more fascinating than the good guys... Dujardin's bull-necked, hard-charging performance makes Pierre a worthy adversary"; Rainer gave the movie a B score. Chris Nashawaty from Entertainment Weekly stated that the "...sprawling cat-and-mouse thriller loses momentum and focus in the homestretch, but until then its '70s sun-and-sin-on-the-Côte d'Azur vibe is electric"; Nashawaty gave the movie a B+. Robert Abele from the Los Angeles Times stated that "Despite the pedestrian screenplay (by Jimenez and Audrey Diwan), Dujardin and Lellouche are magnetic performers who slip easily into their antagonistic roles." Jeannette Catsoulis from the New York Times stated that "How can you dislike a film that signals a killing with "Bang Bang" and a villain with "The Snake"?" Mike D'Angelo from The A.V. Club states that "Jimenez, making his second feature, fails to provide the regular jolts of electricity this material needs"; D'Angelo gave the film a C+. Alan Scherstuhl from the Village Voice stated that the film is "...engaging, propulsive, cut with rare brio, chockablock with consummate tough-guy business." Peter Debruge from Variety states that "Jimenez adopts a vintage-kitsch sensibility, taking a disappointingly generic approach to his hard-to-follow narrative." John DeFore from The Hollywood Reporter calls the film a "...procedural epic whose complicated narrative is propelled by visceral action sequences and an unusually thrilling soundtrack."
"La French" is well produced, it has great cinematography, fantastic environments with Marseille in the focus, a solid feeling of the 70s, good acting, it´s visually stunning and it has a compelling story based on true events. The violence in the film is very realistic and believable. I like the balance between the protagonist and the antagonist. The bad guy has softer sides and the good guy has ugly sides by taking the law into his own hands. Yes, it has a classic set up, bad guy versus good guy, but the wholeness of the film creates something a tad bit unique. The soundtrack featuring several classic songs from the 70s needs to be mentioned as well. "La French" is realistic, dramatic, graphic, bleak and ugly. However, it does feel like France only has got two male leading actors, Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche. You see them everywhere and in everything it seems.
So, this film was a bit like a fast food meal - you've had it before, you know what it tastes like, it's pleasing when it goes down, but then you aren't really completely satisfied feeling a bit like you shouldn't have eaten it. A French version of The French Connection or at least a version of the law enforcement challenge of taking down that big heroin ring in the'70s that saw Marseilles serving as the middleman between Turkish poppies and American consumers. Jean Djuardin is charismatic as the magistrate in charge of the investigation and Gilles Lellouche is suitably unsavoury (but not without some sympathetic notes) as the drug kingpin, but damn if the whole script isn't full of clichés. I guess we could just chalk it up to this being a genre pic and leave it at that (the prosecutor that risks all, neglected wife who threatens to leave, the villain who is vaguely noble but not coping well with the heat, the possible rats within the ranks of the cops). But despite the vaguely stimulating Scorsese-like moves (i.e., with pop music and travelling cameras) things ultimately end up a bit flat and then I'm hungry again.
Great settings, acting, actors, soundtrack and camerawork. Complications of plot (at times, who's who?) didn't hide inevitability of ending. Also,unfamiliar with French justice and political systems, which would have helped understand the background. But well worth the watch - couldn't leave it before the end - especially for two lead actors. Best French movie to come along for a while.
Malgré quelques scènes qui singent sans génie des classiques américains comme Scarface et quelques incohérences particulièrement gênantes et clairement évitables, La French est un bon thriller français dominé par un Jean Dujardin excellent et par un supporting cast (Benoît Magimel et Moussa Maaskri sont au top) tout aussi bon. On évitera d'accabler Gilles Lellouche, par contre, mais il n'est pas crédible une minute en parrain de la drogue. De plus, la mise en scène de Cedric Jimenez oscille entre le très efficace et le chichiteux. C'est dommage, car avec un peu plus de classicisme, on aurait pu avoir un très bon film.
The best movie I've seen in a long time, and perhaps my new all time favourite. The locations, cars, furniture, clothing, and the way this movie was shot makes it a visual masterpiece.
cinegeek.de Mit einer schlagkräftigen Geschichte weist dieser französische Thriller zurück in die frühen 70er, als noch Popeye Doyle in Marseille ermittelte. Der Richter Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin) wird vom Jugend Dezernat in das für organisierte Kriminalität versetzt. Sein Gegenspieler: Gaëtan Tany Zampa (Gilles Lellouche), der Kopf des organiserten Verbrechens in Marseille. Niemand wagt, gegen ihn auszusagen. Der Richter erfährt dennoch, dass eine junge Frau an einer Überdosis starb, dadurch, dass er ihre Mutter verhört. Er verbeisst sich in den Fall, was auf Kosten seiner Ehe geht (die Ehefrau des Richters fühlt sich vernachlässigt und an seine Zeit als Spielsüchtiger erinnert). Beide Familien nehmen einen breiten Raum ein, auch die von Zampa. Einmal treten sich Zampa und der Richter gegenüber: Zampa erklärt, dass er sich nicht als Gangster, sondern Geschäftsmann sieht. Der Thriller nimmt eine Politische Dimension ein, dadurch dass der Richter mit dem Bürgermeister (der später Innenminister wird) aneinandergerät. Fesselnd erzählt und geschickt mit Wide Screen Format gefilmt, erinnert La French an die tollen französischen Genre Thriller der 70er. mehr auf cinegeek.de
Pretty looking drug flick where the French police and inspector groups are after a drug lord named Zampa and his crew.
It's got a great build up and the first hour is really enjoyable. My interest falls after a while, but it's never a poor film. Not very original, naturally - this has been done hundred of times before. Superb acting by big faces like Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche is a great feature, so are the crisp colors and great shots. Good dialogues and some drama makes this stylich film, with a classic presentation, a fair version of "The French Connection" (1971), even if it's not especially similar.
6.5 out of 10 magistrates.
La French FullMovie
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Un bon film sur l'assassinat du magistrat Pierre Michel et de l'implication des policiers (corses) corrompus mais non inquiétés.
It deserves 3,5, but for some reason it couldn't keep my attention so much. I usually like movies like this, but maybe this one just wasn't my type... but it's well made and well acted !