La Proie

Dir: Eric Valette
Star: Albert Dupontel, Alice Taglioni, Stéphane Debac, Sergi Lopez

Franck Adrien (Dupontel) is in jail for a bank robbery, from which the proceeds were never recovered. With his wife desperate for cash to help their mute daughter, he passes word on to his cellmate Maurel (Debac), who is about to be released after the case against him falls apart. However, Maurel is not as innocent as he seems, taking not only the loot - he also departs with Adrien's daughter. Desperate to save her from Maurel's predations, Adrien breaks out of jail, only for Maurel to respond by framing him as responsible for a series of killings, using fragments of hair, etc. he brought out of jail. Hot-shot detective Claire Linné (Taglion) is on the case, so can can Adrien find Maurel and rescue his daughter, while the full resources of the French police force are out to get him? Not without flinging himself through windows, off bridges and on to trains, or so it would appear...

You have to suspend your disbelief for this one, as Adrien takes a pounding beyond what any normal man could handle, and keeps on, not only functioning, but doing so at full-speed: the three actions mentioned in the previous sentence are all part of one chase, and even being shot barely slows him down. There's also a certain convenient timing required by the plot i.e. the police always show up at exactly the moment necessary, be that individually or in groups. However, you likely won't notice these flaws, thanks to the breathless pace at which Valette drives proceedings along. Dupontel, who looks a bit like a young De Niro, makes for a sympathetic hero, one whose fatal flaw - which both gets him into prison, and then into his relationship with Maurel - is that he is too trusting. The supporting cast are excellent, with Debac suitably slimy and Taglioni expanding beyond the "bait whore" role in which she is first seen. While Valette's failed stab at Hollywood now seems more like an exception, I think he should probably stay in France for a bit, if the results are going to be as well-directed as this.

[December 2011]

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