27 March 2009 | Siamois
Lots of style, little substance
There are many ingredients of the cyberpunk genre in this film, which is why I was looking forward to see it. Unfortunately, it is a weird mix and while Leclerq obviously has a flair for aesthetics, he would have been better off letting someone else write the script.
Albert Dupontel, better known as an actor and director of comedies, continues his recent transition to more "heroic" roles. Here, he has amazing presence and physicality playing David Hoffmann, a hard-nosed cop. Unfortunately, the script is so bad, the direction so poor, that sometimes you just can't believe his lines or behavior.
His character is not the only one lacking development and substance. Everyone surrounding him looks even more like a walking cliché. Marie Guillard lacks credibility as Becker, Hoffman's pretty rookie partner. Veteran actor Marthe Keller plays a doctor with an agenda and recites her uninspiring lines without conviction. Alain Figlarz is intensely physical as the movie's main goon but as a villain, again the script doesn't sell him very well. There are many other characters we equally do not care about. Apparently, in the future, every woman in the police department will be a pretty girl who looks unfit for the job.
So, if the plot is terrible, the characters uninteresting and their lines ridiculous, why exactly does it deserve a 5 rating? Well for one, there are martial arts scene in the pure tradition of Bourne. the context in which they happen is silly but their execution is actually flawless and they are pulse-pounding. Kudos to Dupontel here. He delivers big. The rendition of a Paris in the not-so-distant future is also beautiful. It's mostly interiors (few outside shots) but you do get a nice feel of what could realistically be the future. It's extremely stylish and European. Speaking of which, the photography here is very good.
What you're left with is a movie that combines elements of techno-thriller, noir and sci-fi and takes itself very seriously. Unfortunately, it's not done well enough. When your scenario lacks credibility, a good way to save it is by injecting something else. Irony, humor or romance. But Chrysalis never does that. And the action is sparse enough that we notice it's flaws.
I hope Leclerq will pursue his career but I'd rather he directs and let someone write.