A group of four bank robbers run into trouble while attempting to escape. Their simple plan of robbing a bank and getting away goes terribly awry when one of them is killed and the others take hostages. They eventually get on their way to possible freedom with a father and daughter as well as a woman; however, the road to this freedom is littered with obstacles and violence. Enragés is a new adaptation of the short story “Man and Boy” by Michael J. Carroll which was previously adapted by Mario and Lamberto Bava in 1974. Here the screenplay is written by Yannick Dahan, first time writer and director Eric Hannezo, and actor (yet not in this film) Benjamin Rataud.
Hannezo and Rataud being first time film writers, bringing in Dahan who previously write the fun French zombie film La Horde was definitely a good move. The writing here is good and moves the story at a good pace while set in part in an overcrowded car, this was not easy to achieve and highly necessary. The characters are well developed without giving everything about them away. This adds to the mystery behind some of their motives and keeps the viewer involved in the story.
First time director Eric Hannezo builds suspense and tension as the characters become more nervous and desperate. Having them all in the car for an extended period of time could have killed the film, but here it adds to the conflict between the characters, to the violence (not always physical) towards each other and ultimately leads to a bad situation becoming much worse. His cast is mostly composed of experienced actors which was a wise choice here as they all share most of the screen time, giving them a lot of interactions and discussions which was all well directed and if course acted.
The cast here is led by Guillaume Gouix as Sabri the lead bad guy with his acolytes being played by François Arnaud and Franck Gastambide. On the good side, as the hostages, are veteran actor Lambert Wilson as the father, Virginie Ledoyen as the woman, and Mégane Lemée as the sleeping child whose scenes are minimal really. The standouts are Lambert Wilson, Virginie Ledoyen, and François Arnaud. Wilson as the father to a child with a peculiar health issue imbues his character with a detached care for his child while coming off as a man who is not be one to mess with. Ledoyen starts rather helpless or in shock and eventually takes a turn where the viewer will believe that she does want to get out alive but is a caring human who cannot leave this child with these men. Arnaud, the sole Québécois actor in the lead group, comes off as a real creep with little to no morals; he’s in it for himself and wants to enjoy the ride. This lead cast is surrounded by decent to very good actors who, in most cases, don’t get a lot of time to shine.
Enragés (Rabid Dogs) is an entertaining film with tension almost throughout. As someone who has not seen the 1974 version (correcting this soon), I cannot judge if it’s a good remake or even a different adaptation of “Man and Boy” by Michael J. Carroll. However, as a film fan, I can say it’s worth viewing, the story and action being quite good as well as for the tension and scenery. On a side note, the film was shot in Montréal and the Québec countryside meant to pass for France, which means that anyone familiar with downtown Montréal will recognize some of the streets and buildings making it a bit difficult to get into the story at first, but this is easily forgotten once they leave the city.