Judge David Johnson preys on Skittles.
The French may be imploding as a culture and an economy, but their action movie output is second-to-none.
What do you get when you cross a desperate bank robber, a deranged sex maniac and the hottest policewoman ever? One of the frontrunners for Hidden Gems of 2014.
Facts of the Case
Franck Adrien (Albert Dupontel) is in prison for robbing a bank. He's the only man who knows where his stash his hidden, making him fairly popular behind bars. But he's not talking, no matter what his fellow felons' shivs say. Franck's only friend is his meek cellmate, who claims he's been framed.
The only thing keeping Franck focuses is the prospect of getting out in a few months and rejoining his wife and daughter. But unique and terrifying circumstances require and early escape, plunging him into a deadly chase, with the authorities closing in and his family placed into sudden danger.
I kept that synopsis purposely vague because there some fun to have in discovering The Prey for yourself. Even though it got me interested in checking it out in the first place, the back-of-the-disc synopsis even gives too much away. Keep yourself as clean as possible before hitting play and I promise you are going to have a great time.
I'm not joking about the French and their action-moviemaking; they've got talent socked away there, and some of coolest, most inventive productions have come from France-land. The Prey continues the tradition, serving up a tense, nasty, white-knuckle experience with enough surprise to keep it fresh.
Start with the hero. Mr. Dupontel does not boast the lantern-jawed looks of your standard-issue action brawler—but that's what makes him cool. Hook-nosed, north of 45 and with a mop of receding scraggly hair, he's the everyman, the regular guy without martial arts training, but an unquenchable desire to find his family and that makes him dangerous. There's no fancy fight choreography, just one dude fighting dirty and taking a ton of punishment.
On the other side is the cop, Claire (Alice Taglioni) a bulldog of an investigator, who looks like a gorgeous bad-ass Julie Haggerty. As homely and plain as our hero looks, our heroine appears to have leapt off the cover of Cosmo. No complaints, though, because she's awesome. Her arc isn't entirely unpredictable, but Taglioni injects some fire in the performance and she's surrounded by a likable, charismatic squad of supercops.
In the end, both of these fine characters are serving the true engine of The Prey: the relentless story. Once it gets its legs moving, the narrative spits fire. Franck gets on the run and its one action scene after the other and the set-ups are well-staged. From a close-quarters brawl in a hallway that transitions to sprint into traffic, the mayhem his well-choreographed and cleanly photographed. The final third of the film veers more into the "tension" arena and while it would have been nice to have maybe one more jolt of action, the denouement is effective and satisfying.
Apart from that downshift in momentum, The Prey is balls from the opening on; if you want a break from the same-old same-old of the Hollywood action factory, go find this film.
A solid Blu-ray awaits: 2.40:1, 1080p for your picture transfer and a clean, highly-detailed one at that; a pair of active 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks (English and French) push the sound; and for extras, a behind-the-scenes featurette and an interview with the director.
Edgy, messy and utterly absorbing, The Prey is very much worth hunting down.
Give us your feedback!
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
Review content copyright © 2014 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.