22 Bullets (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/09/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Watchable revenge thriller, enlivened by some slickly directed action sequences and a strong central performance from Jean Reno, though it's also frequently ridiculous, pretentious and over the top (in a bad way).

What's it all about?
Directed by Richard Berry and produced by Luc Besson, 22 Bullets (or L'Immortel, original title fans) stars Jean Reno as Charly Mattei, a retired Marseilles mob boss who's ambushed, shot 22 times and left for dead, less than five minutes in. Miraculously, he survives (as, apparently, did a real life 1970s Mafia figure, the inspiration for the story) and vows to take violent, bloody revenge on those responsible.

The chief suspects are fellow mob bosses Tony Zacchia (Kad Merad) and Aurelio Rampoli (director Richard Berry), childhood friends with whom Charly took an obviously lapsed vow of loyalty. At the same time, Charly gets help from an unexpected source in the form of Marseilles cop Marie Goldman (Marina Fois), while a third childhood friend Martin Beaudinard (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) tries to intercede on his behalf before everyone winds up dead.

The Good
Jean Reno is excellent as Charly and there are clear echoes of Leon (which Besson directed), with the film's publicity even going so far as to include the tag-line 'The Revenge of The Professional' (Leon's alternate title in some countries). There's also strong support from Fois while Kad Merad hams it up a treat as the stuttering, puppy-murdering Zacchia.

While never approaching the level of Taken for enjoyable shooty mayhem, 22 Bullets does at least have a few slickly-directed action sequences up its sleeve, most notably a motorbike chase and a shoot-out at a coastal hideaway.

The Bad
That's not to say the film is without problems - for one thing, it's frequently ridiculous, such as the scene where Charly has to repeatedly crawl through barbed wire, which plays like a bad Family Guy joke. Similarly, it's often pretentious (Charly's much-touted vow of pacifism doesn't seem much in evidence) and occasionally confusing, in that it's actually quite difficult to tell Merad and Berry's characters apart.

Worth seeing?
22 Bullets delivers basic violent revenge thrills and has a strong central performance from Jean Reno, but unlike, say, Taken, it doesn't bring anything new to the revenge thriller table.

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Content updated: 18/12/2017 05:17

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