In the original Kung Fu tv series, Shaolin monk Caine walked the Earth and spent a majority of the episode explaining his intent not to fight – which then devolved into martial arts ass kicking. 22 Bullets is an episode of Kung Fu, but in French and with less people in yellowface.
Jean Reno plays retired mafioso Charly Mattei who wants nothing more than to finish his life without further bloodshed. There’s no Fairy Godmother to grant this wish, however, so he gets blasted with, you guessed it, 22 bullets. Despite this, he keeps his bodyguards from killing an informant who knew about the hit and like Caine, he doesn’t wish to fight. That all changes when the released informant rats out Mattei and his crew, leading to further butchery with the intent of scare him away from vengeful plots. Too bad Mattei just looks at his butchered bodyguard as an invitation for a bullet battle royale.
Mattei’s denial of bloodshed is the film at its most intriguing. Whole worlds of possibility flood the imagination when you consider an ex-gangster who wants to solve problems without the gun. Sadly the story switches tracks and takes the easy way out, making Mattei go on a killing spree that would impress The Punisher.
The key ingredient missing from 22 Bullets is the emotional gunpowder to set off the action in ways that made Heat and Leon: The Professional* such great staples of the genre. Instead, 22 Bullets is slightly better than the Transporter action fests produced by Luc Besson, but doesn’t leave much to write home about. Also, since the adept Besson was merely producing, 22 Bullets director Richard Berry assaults us with a barrage of fast cuts that don’t increase urgency, just exasperation.
Points for being bloody and tag lines like, “Spilled blood never dries” (I was thinking it was “dies”, which might be better), but the film should have decided if it wanted to be a nutty action film or a moving drama with bloodshed and gangsters. 22 Bullets hangs out between these areas, leaving an “eh” vibe when you exit the cinema.
Due to your readership, dear Film Fan, I have secured a Press Pass for the festival. This makes almost all of the screenings free. Without your readership, I would be spending over a 100 pounds trying to cover a fraction of the festival’s events. So thank you.
To honor your support, please look through the festival’s brochure and tell me what films you want reviewed – or simply if I’ve overlooked a great film at the fest. I cannot promise I will be able to deliver all reviews given time restraints, but I will do my best.
There are an insane number of films being shown, so the following are the main titles I’m looking forward to seeing.
“Jean Reno gets shot 22 times…and he’s not happy about it.” Produced by Luc Besson (Unleashed, The Fifth Element) and starring our favorite hit man, this is high on my list.
BAFTA Scotland Interview: Sir Patrick Stewart
Who would pass up a chance to see Captain Picard?
A dystopia in which smokers are separated from the rest of the city, it looks like a fun B-movie.
Robert Duvall plays Felix Bush, an old timer who wants to have a funeral party – while he’s still alive. Throw Bill Murray into this 1930’s period piece and I’m there.
H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror
This will be a “audio horror movie,” using the cinema’s sound system to tell Lovecraft’s tale.
Documentary from Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound, Rocket Science) detailing the lives of lottery winners. Given the greatness of Rocket Race and an NPR piece I heard discussing the making of the film, it should deliver the goods.
After contact with alien life has gone awry, the Mexican/U.S. border becomes “infected” territory. Monsters received buzz at SXSW and has been compared to District 9. Probably the film I’m most anticipating at the festival.
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
Directed by Werner Herzog and produced by David Lynch, that’s enough to watch. Adding Michael Shannon (a little known actor who was phenomenal in Shotgun Stories), Michael Pena (Crash, The Shield), Chloe Sevigny, and Willem Dafoe is just icing to the cake.
Looking forward to this based solely on the reviews, tagging it as a UK horror that throws out the rules.
Described by the EIFF as a prison story that makes A Prophet “look like porridge.”
“This Western-style outback thriller is action cinema at its very best.”
“The Afghanistan war film that renders all others unnecessary.” After being embedded for 15 months, the film is supposed to be an unflinching analysis of modern warfare, featuring civilian and military casualties.
The Last Rites of Ransom Pride
It’s 1910 and a young woman is hellbent on returning the body of outlaw Ransom Pride to Texas for a proper burial. Described as a “dark, violent western” reminiscent of Tarantino, Pekinpah, and Sergio Leone, with cameos from Kris Kristofferson, Dwight Yoakam, Jason Preistly, and a shotgun wielding Peter Dinklage, it sounds like a good ride.
The People vs. George Lucas
I posted a blog piece about this that you can read here. Super pumped for this one.
Toy Story 3
UK premiere of Pixar’s latest.
World’s Greatest Dad
Starring Robin Williams in a dark comedy/drama directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, it’s sure to be interesting given Williams abilities showcased in One Hour Photo and Death to Smoochy.
Other film of interest include: Act of Dishonour, And Everything is Going Fine, Au Revoir Taipei, Blank City, Boy, Caterpillar, Chase the Slut, Cherry Tree Lane, Crime Fighters, Evil in the Time of Heroes, Fog, Gravity, Henry of Navarre, HIGH School, Hotel Atlantico, Jackboots on Whitehall, Lucky Luke, Ollie Kepler’s Expanding Purple World, Perastroika, Police Adjective, Postales, Privelege, Putty Hill, Skeletons, Snowman’s Land, Son of Babylon, Soul Boy, The Dry Land, The Hunter, The Oath, The Red Machine, The Robber, The Sentimental Engine Slayer, Third Star, Two Eyes Staring, Vacation, and Went the Day Well?
There are still some costs to covering the film festival, so if you like the blog and can afford to support my work, donate below. If you donate $10 or more, I will send you a DVD of my short films. One finds more value in their work when people are willing to pay for it.