out of Five
Running time: 119
Disappointing French thriller, thanks to a ridiculous plot, overblown direction and some dodgy acting from Clovis Cornillac.
What's it all about?
Yvan Attal plays Vincent, a sleazy fashion photographer who gets targeted in a blackmail scheme, only for him to land in even bigger trouble when the bait (the gorgeous Olga Kurylenko) winds up dead. A mysterious figure from Vincent's past named Plender (Clovis Cornillac) shows up claiming to be able to help, but it soon becomes clear that Plender is a psycho with a grudge and he's out for revenge.
The Serpent is the sort of movie that would have gone straight to DVD if it had been made in the States. Its credentials are good – it's based on a British crime novel by Ted Lewis, who wrote Get Carter – but something must have been lost in translation, because the script just piles one ridiculous contrivance on top of another without really worrying about whether any of it makes sense.
The main problem is Clovis Cornillac, who plays Plender like he's the world's most obvious psychopath – he even has a body tattoo, like DeNiro in Cape Fear. Cornillac is apparently best known as a comic actor in France, which presumably adds an extra angle for French audiences that is sadly lost on us.
However, the film's problems don't stop there - for one thing, Vincent is a deeply unsympathetic character, making it extremely hard for us to root for him. Similarly, the action scenes are laughable (Vincent's courthouse escape scene is unintentionally hilarious) and the cheesy score is as overblown as Eric Barbier's direction.
That said, the film does have its moments, notably some impressive set design and a mouth-watering performance from Kurylenko, even if all interest in the film dies along with her character.
Ultimately, The Serpent is only worth seeing for Olga Kurylenko's scenes, which unfortunately isn't saying very much, given that she's killed off in the first act.