9 February 2008 | Bunuel1976
THE OUTSIDER (Jacques Deray, 1983) **1/2
Just as Jean-Paul Belmondo's THE PROFESSIONAL (1981) recalled the Charles Bronson 'loner' action vehicles, this one evokes memories of Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" cop shows
which, by extension, connects it to the Italian poliziotteschi of which the American co-star of THE OUTSIDER, Henry Silva, was a regular! Anyway, Belmondo is a maverick cop up against drug kingpin Silva: he intercepts a consignment of heroin (chasing the speedboat transporting it via helicopter), but the criminal's influence with city officials gets him transferred from Marseille to a low-life district! As was the case with the earlier film, the credits take care to establish the fact that the ageing star performed his own (often dangerous) stunts; in fact, every fifteen minutes or so, he's seen getting into a scuffle, a chase or a shoot-out without necessarily advancing the main plot.
Still, in spite of the protagonist's superficial nonchalance, he's shown to have a heart: befriending a hooker, saving a convict's teenage daughter from life as a junkie, and paternally overseeing the 'legitimate' activity of a young small-time crook; when the latter opposes Silva's offer of 'protection' and winds up dead, the conflict between policeman and racketeer becomes a personal one. Mind you, the overall handling is anything but subtle and blatantly commercial (why else would we be treated to the excess of sleaze on display, including an irrelevant excursion at a gay club?)! The film features another Ennio Morricone score which virtually hinges on a single catchy riff, though it's not quite as haunting as his work on THE PROFESSIONAL. The R2 DVD I rented also featured an Audio Commentary by director Deray which was, unfortunately, unsubtitled and enticing theatrical trailers for two other films Belmondo made for director Philippe De Broca, LE MAGNIFIQUE (1973) and L'INCORRIGIBLE (1975).