“The Connection” (2014)
Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin) is a French police magistrate who works in the Juvenile division. When we first meet Pierre, he is working to reach a young girl hooked on heroin. He’s tough, but it is obvious that he cares about what is happening to the young people of Marseilles. He is determined to make a difference.
He is singled out for his outstanding work and is promoted to the organized-crime unit. He has been hand-picked to spearhead a new campaign to stop the rampant drug trafficking in the city. The organization behind most of it is a crime gang named The French. The French is run by Gaetan “Tany” Zampa (Gilles Lellouche), a stylish crime boss who owns a local night club, lives in a big mansion with his wife and kids and runs the gang with an iron first.
Pierre finds out that it’s not going to be an easy job. Zampa is a very slick operator, never leaving a paper trail and uses an elaborate distribution system not only in the city but also to the United States. Zampa is so well organized that Pierre discovers the police have almost no information on The French and Zampa. If Pierre is going to succeed, he will have to outwork and out think Zampa.
“The Connection” is based on a true story and was the basis for the 1971 American crime drama “The French Connection.” While that film was about the delivery of drugs into New York City, this film concentrates on the French criminals and the magistrate who was trying to stop them.
Pierre and Zampa seem like opposites, but both love their families and are hard-working. Both men are not above breaking the rules. Pierre isn’t above working all night, sacrificing his time with his family to succeed. Either will kill anyone who gets in his way. As the film progresses, it becomes a cat and mouse game between the two men. Both men are desperate to succeed, and one may have to die for the feud to end.
Co-writer/director Cedric Jimenez keeps the story moving along. The film has a nice seventies feel to it, but other than the music, the time period doesn’t dominate the movie. The action sequences are fast-moving and exciting, making the film seem shorter than its two hour and 15-minute length.
The two leads are the reason to see this film. Oscar-winning Dujardin seems a bit of an odd pick for the role because at first he seems to cool and classy for the role. But as the film progresses, Dujardin allows his character to become more and more uncomfortable in his own skin, not happy with the way his life is turning. Dujardin becomes disheveled as the movie progresses as his character becomes obsessed with bringing down Zampa. Gilles Lellouche more than holds his own when he is on the screen with the magnetic Dujardin. Lellouche is so full of energy that at times it seems that he doesn’t just appear on scenes but bursts onto the screen instead . Lellouche does a remarkable job making us like him; even root for him a little, while he is doing even more despicable acts.
Unfortunately, “The Connection” is going to be compared to the 1971 film “The French Connection” even though they are two very different films. “The Connection” is an excellent addition to the crime drama genre with two outstanding performances by Dujardin and Lellouche. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
The film is playing exclusively at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
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