We already knew that the French could do comedic films. From Le Dîner de Cons to La Cage aux Folles to Le Placard, they have done them well for decades. We already knew that the French could do romantic films. From Cyrano de Bergerac to Amelie to La Belle et La Bete, these films all ooze with romance. With director Eric Valette’s (Malefique, One Missed Call) latest film, The Prey, we see that the French have also become quite adept at the cop drama.
Yes, like most cop films a lot of it is unrealistic and the story becomes a little too over-the-top, but inevitably that makes the whole thing much more enjoyable. Admittedly, lead character Franck Adrien (Albert DuPontel – A Very Long Engagement, Irreversible) should have broken his back (jumping out of a window onto the top of a van), broken his ankles (jumping off an overpass onto a roof) and bled out (after being shot in the gut), but he continues on no matter what. Rather than being farcical the indestructible hero is necessary in this type of film.
Albert DuPontel is perfect in his portrayal of the guy who won’t be stopped by a beating, gun shot wounds or the cops hot on his trail. He is a criminal, yes, but a guy we all end up cheering for. Indestructible and charismatic. A great combination in this type of film.
Franck Adrien is in jail for a bank robbery he committed. Near the end of his sentence, Franck only has six months left in his sentence and dreams of the day he will return to his family. He loves his wife Anna (Caterina Murino – Casino Royale) and daughter and will do anything to keep them safe. And anything to get the money he stole that landed him in jail. Franck is in trouble in jail as his partner in the robbery, Novick (Olivier Schneider – Unknown, The Taken), wants the location of where he hid the loot and the Russians are angry at him for stopping them from beating to death his cellmate, Jean-Louis Maurel (Stéphane Debac – Mr. Bean’s Holiday, The Happening), an accused rapist and murderer of a teenage girl. Franck saves Maurel as he believes he is innocent.
Not being a man who trusts easily or at all, it is something when Franck begins to trust Maurel. So much so that when he finds out Maurel has been cleared of all charges he asks a favour of him. The favour is for Maurel to go to see Anna and tell her that if she needs help that she is to go see Franck’s father. All seems well.
That trust begins to falter when an ex-policeman, Manuel Carrega (Sergi Lopez – Pan’s Labyrinth, Dirty Pretty Things), visits Franck in jail and tells him that Manuel is a serial killer of teenage girls. Franck panics as he has sent a serial killer to his family’s home. His panic leads to a plan. A plan leads to his breaking out of prison. His breaking out of prison leads to him being pursued by an elite division of the police force lead by detective Claire Linné (Alice Taglioni – The Pink Panther – 2006, The Valet). Nothing will stop Franck. Not the police nor any amount of physical injuries nor the wit of Maurel.
From the time Franck makes the realization that Maurel is not the innocent man he thought he was Valette’s film becomes a tension-filled adrenaline rush. Filled with close calls, chases, intrigue, and gun battles this is not a film for the faint of heart. Because it is so fast-paced I overlooked the implausibility of what was going on. It was that entertaining and I was hooked. The cat-and-mouse game between Franck and Maurel draws you in completely. There’s a kind of old fashioned feeling to its style; its use of suspense and fear. Everything is up in the air until the very end. A thoroughly enjoyable watch.