Five films have been chosen for the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival specifically because they are independent films that are action-oriented. Generally speaking, there is a myth or a perception that independent films and action-orientation are like oil and water. They don't mix. Those five films that will play in Rehoboth this November include Mesrine: Killer Instinct, Mesrine: Public Enemy Number 1, Largo Winch, Animal Kingdom, and Lebanon. All of them prove that independent films can be action-oriented.
If you go to the Rotten Tomatoes website, you'll see that four of those five have a score of at least 82 percent or higher. The only one that doesn't is Largo Winch. In fact, Largo Winch has no score on Rotten Tomatoes. Currently, the film has one review posted, which is not enough for Rotten Tomatoes to generate a score. While it did have an American distributor, the film didn't seem to get a big push theatrically here in the United States. As a result, there wasn't any press here about the film. I will be one of a trio or perhaps foursome of bloggers writing about this movie on this side of the Atlantic.
Of those few bloggers that I've read, references have been made to James Bond (a la Daniel Craig) as well as Jason Bourne (a la Matt Damon). I have to say that those comparisons are not that far off. If I had to make those kinds of action-movie comparisons though, I would lean more toward the films of Jason Statham. Tomer Sisley who stars as Largo Winch looks nothing like Statham but the spirit of this movie definitely has a Statham feel. Sisley looks more like a younger, darker-skinned and slightly sexier William Fichtner. In fact, if Fichtner was half-Jewish and half-Arab, he would be Tomer Sisley.
From what little is known about the 35-year-old at the time, Sisley is a humorist. That perhaps got him the job, but only little of that is on display here. Sisley's Largo Winch barely has any dialogue and the dialogue he does have isn't in his native language, which I assume is French. Largo definitely speaks in English for half the time if not more. That along with the action scenes will help the audience through this motion picture but I'm not convinced it helped Sisley's character through much of what I wanted, and that's character development.
The times when Largo spoke English were mostly during expository scenes that provided little depth to Sisley's character. It was better when he spoke his native language as I believe he did in his scenes with Miki Manojlovic, a long-time Serbian actor who plays Largo's father Nerio Winch. It was in those moments that the film rose above a standard Jason Statham plot, not that I don't love a Jason Statham plot, but I really would have liked more here.
Based on a Belgian comic, this movie has to be commended for its look and its pace. It's slick and pretty snappy. The film is the first in what may be a series, this one being the origin story. I admit that director Jerome Salle does a good job of explaining that origin and moving us through the present plot at a fairly decent jaunt. I never felt bored. In fact, the thing flew by me even upon a second viewing.
The present plot is not very convoluted or has that many twists. It basically involves a corporate raid that's planned by people who are willing to kill to get control of one of the most powerful companies in Hong Kong, if not the world. The company is called the W Group. Largo is the only one who can stop the corporate raid because his adopted father made him the sole heir. There are some red herrings as to who is behind the corporate raid and who is ultimately the mastermind, but Kristin Scott Thomas co-stars as Ann Ferguson, a slick business executive who takes over the W Group. She does a fine job if working on very little as well.
But, in the end, you come away from this movie with stars in your eyes and drool on your chins over the beauty of not only Tomer Sisley but also French actress Melanie Thierry whose naked derriere is put on display multiple times, much to many's viewing delight. Of the three motor-vehicle chases, the best is by far the defiant escape from a Brazilian prison, which has Largo trying to navigate a speeding van with no brakes. It's the most energetic and fun sequence in the film.
Sisley also has a great physicality. His character seems slightly trained in the martial arts. That part of the origin is never truly explained, but we in the audience go with it being that we're introduced to it so early within the film. I almost thought that this movie would be a pure martial arts piece at first, but Largo spends the majority of the time jumping or running either away or after people. One fall off a cliff is particularly well-staged and the effects for it are smooth and realistic.
The real fisticuffs though don't come until the one very climatic battle at the end, which thankfully has a predictable ending that doesn't end predictably, if that makes any sense, which it probably won't until you see this movie.
Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But for Audiences 14 and Up.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 56 mins.
Playing at the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival
Thursday, Nov. 11 at 12:25 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 12 at 2:40 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 14 at 2:45 p.m.