It probably takes a film as dull as their subsequent and deadly dull Le Solitaire to make you really appreciate Le Marginal, Belmondo and Deray's previous and much more successful pairing (the third highest grossing film in France in 1983). It's junk and derivative junk at that, but at least it keeps moving and delivers what it promises, while Belmondo is still in good enough shape to do his own stunts - be it climbing into a helicopter from a speeding boat or showing off his driving skills in a car chase (and Remy Julienne's second unit work makes sure you can see that it really is Belmondo doing the driving). If Peur Sur la Ville was inspired by the poster for Bullitt, this is Belmondo's take on Sharky's Machine (albeit without any of that romantic stuff): it's not enough that his cop is busted to the basement no-hopers for getting too close to Mr Big, but the film even goes to he extent of hiring Sharky's nemesis Henry Silva (dubbed in the English version) to play the villain. Silva doesn't really have much to do in the film, but then it's really all Belmondo's show. This is Belmondo at his most populist, kicking ass, taking names and looking cool - well, this being the 80s he's got that ex-professional middleweight boxer look to him (as one hood puts it, "You're not a police officer. You're the best gorilla I know."), but it must work because even hookers fancy him. At times it threatens to become as much an ego trip as a star vehicle, but there's enough action to keep it moving, it has a good sense of the underbelly of the city, from its squats to its gay bars, frequent co-star Pierre Vernier is quietly reliable as Belmondo's sidekick and there's a decent Ennio Morricone score thrown in for good measure. Utterly disposable, but as a brain-off Saturday night movie it passes muster effectively enough.
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