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A watchable but distinctly average French science fiction thriller
I tend to be more familiar with French horror than science fiction, this is one of the few of the latter that I've come across and it is perhaps the weakest sadly, though not without its charms. It melds a mismatched partners cop set up with a mysterious, memory tinkering device, with a dash of standard paranoia and a light dusting of potentially interesting themes. There's Albert, our taciturn male lead, even stonier than the average having just lost his partner and wife, Marie, his more "reliable" partner, ambitious young lady with everything to prove, but what do dead immigrants and mysterious eyelid markings have to do with everything? Not to mention a parallel story involving a white coated genius but troubled lady scientist that turns out to be integral but is so predictable I won't say anything about it. Things bubble along, little in the way of truly surprising developments, there is however some effective style, chilly atmosphere and a few flashes of neat action to hold things together until a mishandled ending. Julian Leclerc knows how to marshal his tale and hit the right sort of beats, the film is well structured and flows nicely, its just mechanical in its execution, lacking the thoughtful depth or sustained emotional development that it needed. Sure, there are moments where such depths are hinted at or alluded to, but the film is surface deep, shiny but an empty thing. All this is not to say that I didn't like this one at all though, I in fact got a reasonable enough measure of good times out of it. Albert DuPontel looks his part, craggy and wearied in appearance, and he does his best with his tight-lipped but intense role as Albert, leaving Marie Guillard to act as a likable hook for the audience, which she provides well with an eager, serious yet naive turn that comes off bright and attractive. Melanie Thierry is coldly effective as Dr Brugen, serious and collected with a subtle inner desperation, whilst Alain Figlarz comes across reasonably fierce as the villain of the film. All good turns but all are underwritten parts, they come across as not much more than stock roles, nothing for viewers to really dig into. As another plus though, the film has a bleak and unwelcoming feel, it does not exist in a friendly future and its few gadgets offer little wonderment, all is captured in chilly grey style by the cinematography of Thomas Hardmeier. This works well with the little clutch of action scenes, including a couple of good hard hitting fights, well choreographed by Alain Figlarz. The action has a feel of realism to it, punchy, brutal and effective, with quite a humdinger of a dust up in the final block. These are the things that kept me sufficiently enthused by this one, it probably helps too that I have a fairly high tolerance for science fiction thrillers that at least attempt to look at serious issues and this film touches on a few, the self, memory, the plight of immigrants and the abuse of authority. It may not do much with them, but the themes are there and nice to see, if only for the way in which they lead the viewer to consider such things for themselves. So then, this is far from great stuff but what can I say, I dug it enough. Only one for the really dedicated mostly and not something I'd recommend to all by any means, but it has its moments and it did just about well enough for me
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