Written by Mabrouk El Mechri, Frederic Benudis, Frederic Taddei, Vincent Ravelec, Christophe Tupin . Belgish credits are weird.
Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Francois Damiens, Jean-Francois Wolff, Karim Belkhadra
Having a pretty rough time of things, Jean Claude Van Damme (JCVD) goes into a post office in Belgium (many of you may know that European post offices are also banks) and becomes embroiled in a hostage situation.
this was fantastic, and not in the way i expected it to be. i had to stop doing my fiber art because i was so wrapped up in it. though it seems to be a vanity "comeback" movie he has totally earned it. he doesn't paint himself in a very good light either. he's a flawed, has-been, aging, action actor who hit the big time for a fleeting second and pissed it away. i hope he gets lots of roles out of this movie. not only do i think it was way better than "the wrestler" i think van damme did a better job than mickey rourke.
i put this on the queue because we love a van damme movie in this household. i thought it was going to be a van damme movie making fun of van damme, but it turned out to be quite a great film. it kind of shocked me in the way that "rambo: first blood" shocked me. an action film that's actually got some substance to it, but is usually perceived as a brainless blood and guts and explosion movie. i may go as far as to say this was not an action movie at all. it was great to see jcvd speak his native tongue, and maybe that is why he could emote better than i've ever seen him do before. his performance was completely believable to the point where i had to keep telling myself this is not a true story. (clever trick on his part using his real name and old interviews and speaking about his actual career. also the little digs he gets in about people like john woo.). the more i think about this movie the more i like it. mad props to you, sir. i applaud you, and i hope you get some fulfilling roles out of this experience.
This movie exceeded my expectations on every level. It was smart, interesting, well-directed and acted, and really quite good.
I don't know how much of the backstory is true, but his problems weren't played for laughs at all. The divorce/custody hearing might have been a little over the top, but people are bastards when they're getting divorced so maybe not. And when we get to the actual meat of the film--far earlier than I had thought to expect--things unfold in a depressingly realistic way. There's not a lot of urgency to the pacing here, which again makes sense, and I like how we get to see the politics and general infighting of the Brussles police. While this part is maybe a little more typical (one cop who's actually thoughtful vs. the trigger-happy SWAT guys) it doesn't play out like Die Hard, for example.
I really liked the acting, as well. I think we see sides of JCVD which hadn't been uncovered before. Among other things, this film was probably intended to showcase some other chops and I genuinely hope it was successful. There's one neat little spot where he breaks the fourth wall and it, too, is quite effective.
So, yeah. An excellence 4 when we were expecting an awesomeness 5 is a very nice surprise.