Film is a lot less dour then you'd expect a film with these three stars to be---its not that the film is a comedy--but there are a lot of funny moments throughout entire running time leading up to the audacious jewel heist that is the film's reason for being. (I won't spoil it but lets just say when was the last time anyone used an airplane to rob jewelery?!?!?!?) From the jail break at the very beginning to the crazy ass heist at the end--this film is surprisingly entertaining. I don't know about you but sometimes i find these french crime films get so relentlessly dour and gray and existentialist...that even though they can be amazing to watch and awesome to contemplate---fun is never a term i would really use to describe them as.... that it was such a surprise to find this one so lighthearted. *maybe lighthearted is the wrong word considering that none of the characters are exactly skipping down the streets with joy--but the film itself is certainly a lot less angst filled then one would expect a french crime film like this to be.
Alain Delon is a felon who's sprung from jail while in transit (definitely an awesome scene) at the orders of the leader of this crime family (played by Jean Gabin--who for some reason is using Pinball Manufacturer as his cover--leading to the should be immortal line--Why Don't You Stay Here And Play Some Pinball Detective???) Gabin wants to pull off this daring jewel robbery of a location that Delon's character has some inside knowledge of (delon shared a cell with a guy who used to work at this museum displaying rare jewelery and in exchange for protection--delon gets inside info on both the layout of the museum and the security device triggers--he gets enough info to even map out a blueprint of the lay-out of the place--a little head start on future planning.) Gabin essentially forces Delon to commit this robbery with him and his family---and while Delon isn't exactly happy to do so--he goes along with it. Meanwhile he's making goo-goo eyes at the wife of one of Gabin's sons---oh gee i wonder if that's gonna be important to the plot later on.
Lino Ventura is on hand as the detective tracking down Delon---and he has some wonderful hard bitten one liners throughout. Ventura looking here as kind of a cross between DeNiro and middle age Depardieu--goes through with the motions of chasing down Delon and of course--well you'll see what happens. (Ventura by the way plays the standard issue grouchy detective character so wonderfully here--he really jumps off the screen in some cases--you wonder why he's not better known today among the more famous 60's and 70's french actors.) The plot of the film isn't really all that important anyways--as most of it goes out the window by the second hour anyways--Security at the museum is so airtight--it results in Gabin coming up with a another plan to rob those jewels--one so over the top, so out there, so completely ridiculous--you wonder why you've never seen something like it in a Bruckheimer film in the last 20 years. Its that kind of go for broke attitude that makes the film a lot of fun--but Ennio Morricone's nearly constant theme music also helps a great deal. (the music is so omnipresent its almost like its own character here---i would argue that the music plays more of a character here then any of Gabin's sons--many of whom help in the planning of the robbery--but all of em are so interchangeable that you never know who's who...not that it matters since your attention is going to be on Delon anyways.) I would definitely recommend this film--not just to fans of french crime films--but for fans of any ridiculous action movie since it gets so ridiculous that it actually become that rare french crime film that's also fun to watch.
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