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Fred Cavayé is a director who has already made Hollywood sit up and take notice receiving the double edged compliment of seeing his work snapped up for remake by the subtitle-phobic American industry in Russell Crowe vehicle The Next Three Days (based on Cavayé’s original Anything For Her/Pour Elle). Mea Culpa may not be quite so ripe for a US makeover, but occupies the same muscular territory of that film and Point Blank, another edge of the seat thriller whose title nods towards the director’s own Hollywood influences.
The chemistry between Vincent Lindon and Gilles Lellouche, the respective leads of Anything For Her and Point Blank, enliven what is at heart a fairly basic revenge/chase thriller not immune to some of the silliness of its semi-Gallic cousins like Luc Besson’s Transporter and Taken franchises — surely even among the toughest of drug gangs, the standard response to spotting a policeman in a nightclub is not to start firing off automatic weapons in his direction? And, like so many Euro-thrillers — French, Belgian, Swedish, Norwegian and even Icelandic — it looks to the Balkans for its bad guys, a take-no-prisoners Serbian crew. Though that does mean Mea Culpa’s main antagonist, the imposing Velibor Topic (Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood and Kingdom of Heaven) is unlikely to be out of work any time soon.
What happens: Drummed out of the Toulon police after serving time for causing a fatal car crash, Simon (Vincent Lindon) lives a lonely life separate from his family, his only friend former partner Franck (Gilles Lellouche), a widowed single parent. When Simon’s 10-year old son Theo (Max Baissette de Malglaive) accidently witnesses a gangland killing and becomes a target for assassins himself, Simon and Franck team up to take the fight to the enemy.
Best scene: Theo’s deadly game of hide and seek with a leather clad hitman in a deserted market.
Who for: Anyone who likes their thrillers with a touch of French style and doesn’t mind a splash of blood. Fans of Taken not scared off by subtitles.
Quick review: The plot may be simplistic, but stylishly brutal action scenes and strong central performances make this a gripper.