Movie Review: “22 Bullets,” and why I just love that Jean Reno

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For a fan, there’s nothing more delightful than stumbling across an action title — or a comedy, a romance, whatever — that you’ve missed starring the French monument to modern cinema, Jean Reno.

Because how many times can I re-watch “Ronin,” “The Professional,” “Cold Blood” or that serene, obscure jewel, “The Big Blue?”

He’s the French Chow Yun Fat, Denzel or Costner — laconic, steely, vulpine. And the fact that he can play comedy with skill, too, makes him a very rare bird indeed.

A vulture, judging from those eyes, that profile.

“22 Bullets” came out in France and Europe in 2010, made it to video in North America in 2013, and is a sturdy enough vengeance thriller — a straight-up genre piece with a lot of blood, a few passable shootouts, a half-decent chase, a few whiz-bang editing exercises jazzing up simple dialogue scenes, and one great speech.

Reading the credits, it’s no surprise that “dialogue” required extra hands. This bad guy making his mortal promise to the gang that tried to kill him (22 bullets worth) is a doozie, and I’m just going to quote it and let you imagine Reno biting off every word (in French, with English subtitles). He’s gotten the drop on the would-be assassins, whom he rightly accuses of breaking the rules, attempting “murder,” not “assassination.”

“Charly Mattei, and I’m here to kill you. Out in the open. It’s a matter of respect. I want you to know who kills you. Why you die.

“You don’t kill in a hood. That’s murder. You…you don’t sign the message!”

“I’m going to kill all of you, one after the other. But not right now. I want you to think about what you did, think about it day and night. Beg your wife and children for forgiveness, tell them why you’re gonna die.”

“And when you least expect it — tomorrow, in six months or a year, I’ll be there.”

“You’ll never be safe as long as I’m alive.”

Now that there is a threat, a blood oath to chill the marrow of the most hardened villain.

2half-star6

MPAA Rating: unrated, absurdly violent, drugs, sexual situation, smoking and profanity

Cast: Jean Reno, Marina Fois, Kad Merad and Richard Berry.

Credits: Directed by Richard Berry, based on the novel by Franz-OlivierGiesbert, script by Richard Berry, Matthieu Delaporte, Alexandre de La Patellière and Eric Assous.  A Cinedigm/Roku release.

Running time: 1:57

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