Paris Lockdown (UK - DVD R2)
Reviewer Marcus Doidge takes a drill to French crime thriller Paris Lockdown...
Paris Lockdown (or Truands in France) claims to be about Veteran mob boss Claude Corti (Philippe Caubere) who rules over his pack of power hungry thugs with an iron fist in his empire of fast cars, upscale drugs and expensive women. When his boys betray his trust, he makes them wish for death and begins a crime spree set to send Paris into total lockdown. Yeah, it wishes it was this exciting… Paris doesn’t even get locked down.
This is essentially one big fat cliché of a movie. Taking elements of Michael Mann and mixing it with some classic Scorsese, it relies very much on the audience's knowledge of how crime supposedly works without giving you much in the way of actual details. It fills its criminal world with characters, which include the uber-gangster clichés of 'the crazy boss', 'the cool hitman', 'the loyal best friend' and so on. Unfortunately all of these characters are pretty hollow with the director, Frédéric Schoendoerffer, choosing to show all of them as evil, insidious, brutal men and never giving you anything to connect to. The big boss Claude is at the top of this pile of nasty. He’s a brutal uncompromising character who has zero in the way of redeeming features except being convincingly psychotic. The makers don’t even attempt to paint any of these characters as misunderstood. All of their development into more than one dimensional criminals takes a huge back seat as the story develops and by the time you reach the big finale, you’re pretty much invested in nobody, especially the guy I think you were meant to be totally invested in, Franck. (He‘s the cool hitman by the way).
The story moves at quite a slow pace, introducing you to this cliché gangster lifestyle. You go through the drug deals, the guns, the orgies and murders, but you never really feel part of it and it sort of falls into a series of scenes that feel disconnected and paint by numbers. That’s not to say that it's dull. The movie is an easy one to watch and just as you think it's about to get dull, something happens to click you back in. There’s a pretty realistic shoot out at the supermarché in the opening twenty minutes which really smacks the movie to life, along with a few pretty brutal murders as well. The scene with the drill in the knees that leads to the eye gauging is pretty damn gruesome and the gun scenes in general are never shy of using plenty of blood. There's also the final part of the triple header for the gangster movie genre, the final tick in the big list of clichés: nudity. Most of it is peppered in the background of clubs, but in the handful of sex scenes that the movie does have, are some seriously dark, twisted stuff that is just about as uncomfortable as the murder scenes. Let's just say that this movie doesn't really have any positive roles for women to play and is strictly a male dominated crime tale.
The whole of Paris Lockdown just feels very much like a tepid affair really, never actually exploring anything more than what’s on show and rarely doing anything to get noticed. I wish I could say there were plenty of scenes like this:
Or like this:
Sadly the majority of the movie looks like this:
The movie’s presentation is much like a regular television drama, rarely does it do anything to impress. Some of the night scenes in Paris shine that nice bronze glow, showing off the dark blacks in the frame but it’s nothing really to rave about, it was just noticeable against the bland daytime backdrops of the rest of the movie and in all honesty there’s not too much in the way of variation to most of hundred odd minutes run-time.
Only in French Dolby Digital 5.1, I was initially impressed with the sound mix. The opening music worked very well with the abstract visuals as the credits ran. Unfortunately it ends about there. There is nothing in Paris Lockdown that impresses the ear, despite the shoot out, the shouting and the mix of locations. This makes the movie feel quite low key and as it never uses the power of surround sound to hammer home any of it’s set pieces it just feels a bit of a let down.
The disc throws a few trailers at you before the animated menus pop up, nothing really of note, some European films that did little to raise any interest. As for the film's features, you get the international trailer and English trailer, both never really caught the mood of the film and sold it more as an action movie, which it ain’t. Other than that, you get a documentary which runs just under fifty-twominutes. It's actually quite a cool documentary with a lot of on set footage of them filming in Paris and a lot of insight from the cast and crew. The talking-head interviews sort of reminded me of the Reservoir Dogs special edition, in that it’s all quite low rent and probably never intended for more than an extra feature on the DVD, but because of that it feels quite personal and made for anyone that might actually be a fan of the film.
Paris Lockdown claims to be 'a stylish and brutal glimpse into the intense violent underbelly of the ruthless Parisian underworld'. Only some of that is true. It isn't stylish, unless stylish means looking like every half decent TV drama out there, but granted this is very, very brutal when it wants to be, never tripping into off-putting but some of it is certainly uncomfortable. I'm not really one that hypes up a movie because of its extremities, I'd much prefer if I actually cared about what was happening, which I totally didn't.
This is a run of the mill gangster movie that brings absolutely nothing new to the table and just doesn't provide enough character to be memorable. It's not a terrible movie by any stretch, but it's pretty far away from one I could whole heartedly recommend to anyone who isn't a massive fan of the gangster genre and wants to see how the criminals roll in Paris (SPOILER: Much the same as they do in every other gangster movie, but in Paris).
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 23rd June 2008
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Extras: Making of, English Trailer, International Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Frédéric Schoendoerffer
Cast: Benoît Magimel, Philippe Caubère
Length: 103 minutes
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