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The End Of French Crime Cinema As We Know It, Jim!
In some ways, 'The Lookout' reminded me of the truly awful 'Primer', in that there seemed to be a lot going on, but with the characters only allowed brief scenes and the briefest of conversations to clue you in as to what it was, the odds of you making sense of it all before the credits rolled were so long as to become infinitesimal. Maybe that's just as well, because I suspect neither the director, scriptwriters, or editor(S) had managed to themselves fully join the dots before they'd committed their work to celluloid.
The opening heist and Paris city-centre shoot-out, and especially the intriguing use of flashback prologue that preceded it provided enough of a teaser to buy one's interest for at least a good half-hour, but ultimately it only served to leave me cheated, in the way the cruellest of con-tricks does. Successive scenes of gloomy late-night action, and apparent cross and double-cross, might look great on paper, but ultimately, not enough to make one even consider giving it a second - or even third - watch to try to pick up on what you missed, because you quickly realise that what you might have missed was never actually there in the first place.
I'd officially given up on French crime cinema about 5 years ago - or whenever the over-hyped and overrated 'The Prophet' was released. I'd determined that all the younger directors were following some template, which usually featured sombre, moody, colours; savage violence - usually including superfluous and titillating misogyny - and slick fast-paced productions designed to compensate for plot-holes.
'The Lookout' has all of these - and then some - but 'The Lookout' trumps them all because it has the 'Primer' factor that the other films lacked: "Regardez, mes amis: you don't need to have any coherent plot, because you can use bikini-brief scenes, and half-begun sentences that explain nothing!"
This film might be the first truly 'Second Unit' film: it's all about the action, and the slick, fast-paced non-plot, and location shooting. Yes,it features Daniel Auteuil and Mathieu Kassovitz who've done good work in the past, but their presence was required solely to sell the film to a baker's dozen of international financiers. Acting-wise, their presence was superfluous. The presence of so many technicians who are experts in their field might have provided at least a temporary boon to the French film industry, but ultimately I fear it will only become self-defeating, as it will turn off potential viewers.
Jean-Pierre Melville must be turning in his grave! (or even pirouetting...!)
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