“Sentinelle” is a French vengeance tale that dispenses with developing peripheral characters and concentrates solely on its long she-wolf heroine.
But even she is short-changed in this tight but illogical skips-a step-or-three thriller.
The Ukrainian model-turned actress Olga Kurylenko, of “Quantum of Solace,” “Johnny English Strikes Again,” “Seven Psychopaths,” “The November Man” and lots of other thrillers, has never shed her runway-thin build.
That doesn’t mean she can’t be lethal. Dress her in camo, gear her up with belts and body armor and she’s still the skinniest commando in the French Army, which is what she plays in “Sentinelle.”
Klara is a translator/interrogator trooper helping extract info from prisoners in the Middle East when we meet her. But she’s slow to pick up the suicide bomber they’ve just taken into custody, slower to react when she realizes the peril.
So she’s re-assigned to domestic duties, gearing up as part of the four-trooper patrols that have become part of French life — armed military snooping around, trying to head off the next terror attack on French soil.
They’ve even re-assigned her to the Côte d’Azur, Nice, where he mom and sister Tania (Marilyn Lima) live.
But Klara is haunted, easily triggered, in counseling and on medications. And when the meds run out, she knows where to score them on the street just as she knows which woman in the club that her gaydar tells her would be up for a little after hours action.
That’s how she gets separated from Tania, and that’s when her sister is assaulted and left for dead on the beach. Klara isn’t a cop, but she knows how to get information, and how to handle herself in a fight.
So this already-unstable drug addict puts on her uniform and arms herself and heads out to figure out who did this to her sister so she can kill him or them.
Kurylenko handles the fight choreography with style, even if we don’t want to ponder the physics of someone this willowy taking a beating and dealing one out to people much heavier.
This French film has no “I’m coming for you” threats, the hallmark of your typical Hollywood treatment of revenge. Klara just targets her man, adjusts the target for new info, impulsively tries to take care of it in a flash, and when she’s interrupted by her comrades in arms, schemes a better idea to get a dirty job done.
Ignoring “physics” is optional here. Ignoring “logic” a little less so. There’s no intervention from the superiors, who let her and us know they see her unraveling. There is no wariness of letting her patrol, after she’s shown a tendency to freeze in the clutch, even after they and we get the sense that she’s out for something “personal” and bloody.
At 80 minutes, “Sentinelle” is seriously biff-bam “Thank-you, ma’am.” It has to be. Any pauses to let us think it through might prompt laughter, and nobody wants that, especially not the skinny broad with the assault rifle.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, graphic violence, drug abuse, nudity
Cast: Olga Kurylenko, Marilyn Lima, Michel Nabokoff
Credits: Directed by Julien Leclercq, script by Julien Leclercq, Matthieu Serveau. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:20