I started off enjoying this film, but by the second half I began to notice something: I was zoning out. Why would I zone out? Simply because the second half is rushed, contrived, and boring. The film started off as a really awesome sleek and stylish piece of action, but then started to head off into such a predictable route. The entire second half begins to feel so tacked on and meaningless that I immediately began losing interest. It wasn’t hard to notice the shoddy fight choreography where we can see Statham pulling his punches on the stuntman with his slow fight maneuvers. I tried to ignore it but soon knew that I’d seen better fighting in a Van Damne flick, and that’s pretty pathetic.
That said, Leterrier’s direction is, at least, very stylish and appealing to the eye, from the beautiful scenery of Paris to the great characters that show up throughout the film. Frank Martin looks like a stray character from “Reservoir Dogs” and is just as cool; the opener where a bank is being robbed and he awaits the thugs in his car instantly establishes his character and his personality. I have never seen anyone make Anal Retentiveness look so cool, before, and Statham handles it well. Writers Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson devise a film that combines both the action of a John Woo film and the intelligence of “La Femme Nikita”.
The action scenes are possibly the best and Statham pulls off the performance and reflexes to a hilt. His friend and intellectual rival Tarconi (François Berléand) is an inspector who is constantly on Martin’s tail often appearing at his house unannounced and probing into his affairs in hopes of catching him in the act of his illegal activities. He’s a great opposite character to Statham’s magnetic abilities and it’s rather entertaining when the two banter almost furiously making an effort to outwit each other. Most of the second half comprised of the character Martin breaking into the top secret base and breaking free Lai, but its all so uneventful and dull that I was bored.
Out of nowhere two villains appear on the film with little to no emphasis and poor introductions to their characters; they felt so tacked on and meaningless to the Frank character that I would have preferred to watch the entire movie with Frank going through hordes of thugs to get to the actual villain who set him up in the first place, instead there’s nothing much to the villains. Qi Shui who plays the love interest Lai is such a bad actress and begins dragging the movie to a screeching halt whenever she’s on screen. Like the rest, her role feels tacked on and she’s such a shrieking and annoying character that when the two manage to get involved sexually, it comes on as forced and predictable. I had high hopes from this film, but got a lot less; I appreciated the first half and the great performance from Statham, but became disappointed by the second half. Entertaining, nonetheless.