With Belmondo as with many of the things that matter, either you love him or you don't. I do, and it comes in the family, so be forewarned :).
There are films that demand not to be analyzed. This is one. Belmondo is a cop who behaves like a gangster to, well, get the gangsters behind bars. His code of ethics wouldn't win medals in any police academy, even a Third World's. Speaking of which, the way we see Marseille, it could well be Turkey or Bolivia :). Facts are not stylized, our hero kills and fails to be killed just by chance. You feel the danger, for instance, when he gets into a squatter's den in order to rescue the daughter of somebody whom he put into jail. He's a hardened man, always with a good blunt answer: "You should have thought about this before!" is what he says to this man when he moans that his daughter has been caught by this delinquents. But then, he gets the victim out of trouble, from an environment that makes his real "nemesis" look less menacing.
Morricone's score doesn't disappoint, as usual. "Beautiful, elegant, tense, suffocating and full of melodrama" (written by Paul Werkmeister "miser42" on Amazon).
It's difficult not to compare this to the masterwork of the genre: THE PROFESSIONAL. While it remains at the top, this would make a great 2nd best, specially if you don't want to get emotional at the end.
Pierre Vernier makes a great if unusual (and thus, welcome) sidekick. Like Jordan, sometimes he doesn't need to utter a word to answer. Henry Silva is finely cast.
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