It's hard to think of a more utterly pedestrian French flic flick than Le Solitaire aka The Loner, a 1987 effort that sees Belmondo going through the motions as a cop who postpones his retirement when his partner is murdered to bring the killer to justice. Plot was never a strong point in Belmondo's cop movies but it's a serviceable enough excuse for some gratuitous stunt work, car chases and shootouts, yet none of them ever materialise in a film that seems to be made up entirely of lifeless retreads of all the filler scenes between set pieces its star must have realised he's now just too old for (a shame he didn't realise the same about his wardrobe). He takes out his gun a couple of times and punches a few crims who are smart enough not to hit him back for no good reason, but the overall feeling is of people simply churning out film until they've got enough in the can to call it a movie. There's no character, atmosphere or sense of place, merely an undeveloped damp squib of a subplot that has his dead buddy's young son staying with him and ruining his love life by telling his various girlfriends about each other that serves no purpose and just feels like more padding in a film where nothing much happens in not very interesting ways for a presumably contractually obligated 100 or so minutes.
Worse, it's a star vehicle that doesn't know what to do with its star. The lengthy opening take of Belmondo cruising in his police car certainly doesn't do him any favors as he goes through his repertoire of expressions - tough, bemused, wary, watchful, ageing cool - only to end up unfortunately looking like a gurning chimp with a cigar clenched in its teeth because the director (Jacques Deray) didn't say cut in time. But apart from pulling the odd face, Belmondo really doesn't have much to do here despite being the star of the show. There's no heavy lifting required in the acting department, no daring stunts and he doesn't even get a car chase - the only driving he gets to do is a playful bit of swerving from side to side in the end title sequence. Even in the film's one half-hearted 'big' shootout he's reduced to being a spectator until he finally gets a couple of minutes of dodging bullets in the last reel. It hardly seems worth his time turning up, or the audience's for that matter.
It's not atrociously made, just unimaginative and dull, like a bland episode of a too-long running TV show the cast and crew know has finally been cancelled, the kind of film that inevitably happens when you keep on going to the well long after it's dried up.
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