“Emotionally chilly, and not as clever as it thinks, but well-acted and shot.”
The French have a decent pedigree of action heroines, going back to Joan of Arc. Cinematically, the likes of Bloody Mallory, Adele Blanc-Sec, and one of the most influential of them all, Nikita, have kept the tricouleur flying. This is closest to the last-named, with Lucrece (Laurent) fed up of the assassin game, but talked into that old standby of the genre, one final mission, by her agent (Karyo, who of course was also in Nikita). This involves posing as a classical singer and taking part in a performance of Handel’s Messiah. For the target is the bass singer (Stills), whose Scottish distillery occupies land an oil company wants for their pipeline. Lucrece is pretty disenchanted with the whole thing, and this may explain why her early attempts mis-fire. Fortunately, the special agent (Cornillac) sent to track her down, is equally as unenthusiastic. But is Lucrece the only killer in play?
The picture is pretty misleading, since Lucrece never touches a gun the entire movie – she’s a poisons specialist. It’s pretty chilly, emotionally, but both Laurent and Cornillac do bring some humanity to their roles, and are both very watchable [there’s one scene between them that is particularly good]. It seems to be aiming for a Hitchcockian twistiness rather than an action-packed thrill-ride; it doesn’t quite pull this off, and you’re left to appreciate the Swiss scenery and the classical music more than the plot. It’s too heavy on the cliches of the genre, and feels more like a lazy effort to tidy up loose ends on a long-running TV series, than a solid standalone work – Lucrece’s relationship with her daughter seems particularly thrown in. A character like Lucrece would certainly have plenty of interesting stories to tell; this doesn’t seem to be one of the more memorable.
Dir: Jèrôme Le Gris
Star: Mèlanie Laurent, Clovis Cornillac, Tchéky Karyo, Christopher Stills