Perhaps I was too hasty to write off Renaults. Mais oui?
It’s also pretty obvious France has found its answer to Jason Statham. His name’s Alban Lenoir. Did you see “Lost Bullet?” Yeah. That putain de mère, right there. .
I knew ten minutes into its sequel that I was going to break my years-in-newspapering rule to never park profanity in a review. But Gawd DAMN. Have you seen this “Lost Bullet 2” on the Netflix?
It picks up the action right after — and then a year and a half after — our rogue cop Lino (Lenoir) recovers from the near-death-experience that was the case that got his brother killed in the original film — drug smuggling across the Spanish border. Lino’s taken advantage of France’s civilized leave-from-work rules to heal his wounds, move into his car and go a little crazy.
But he’s hellbent on protecting his brother’s widow, Stella (Anne Serra) from the mob that murdered his sibling.
Four bad guys break into her house. There’s no time to call the working police. Lino barges in and proceeds to pummel and torture one of them — bones snapping, the works — in front of two others who say nothing but who HAVE to be thinking, “Damn I did not sign UP for this!” With every savage injury, Lino stares down the other two, daring them to stop him, giving them every chance to do what any sane thug would do.
But they never do.
Writer-director Guillaume Pierret doesn’t change things up much from the first film, going just a little — ok a LOT — over the top in Lino’s obsession with revenge, and his “modifications” to his battering-ram-armed Renault 21 Eurobox.
What our writer-director serves up is near non-stop action, adhering to a couple of hard and true action film truths.
Number one, fistfights and no-holds-barred brawls are better than shootouts, every time. Shoot outs are for creaky old action stars who have lost their fastball.
Truth number two, why crash ten Renaults when France is full of them? Why not 100?
“Lost Bullet 2: Back for More” relentlessly serves up a brutal fight, then a pulse-pounding chase, then another fight, another chase and on and on.
It is pure action mayhem and it is a breathless, jaw-dropping hoot.
Lino is still trying to get to the mastermind who killed his brother. His former partner and immediate superior Julia (Stéfi Celma) isn’t hearing it. Her boss (Pascale Arbillot) won’t have it.
There must be dirty cops involved. And the mob has its own killers on the case. Lino thinks this goon Marco (Sébastien Lalanne) can either lead him to the Big Cheese, or simply accept his just deserts — getting beaten to death.
Shot in the arid South of France near the Spanish frontier, Pierret finds narrow roads for chases, scary spots for road blocks and whole sixpacks of Renaults — cop cars, SUVs, etc. — to blow up.
Stripping the plot down to such basics isn’t for everyone. But these are fights with real violence and obvious bodily consequences, car crashes that are as outlandish and physics-defying as anything you’ll see in your average comic book movie.
There’s nothing obviously digital going on here, kids. The French have long been aces when it comes to car chases.
If you like your fights righteously brutal and head-buttingly realistic and your car chases Vin Diesel free, this is the thriller for you.
You don’t have to see the first film to follow the second, because honestly, plot points went right out of my head right after watching “Balle perdue,” as they titled it in France. But if you haven’t, check out “Perdue” one, take a while to catch your breath, and dive straight into “2.” There’s nothing like’em on Netflix.
Rating: TV-MA, violence, and lots of it
Cast: Alban Lenoir, Stéfi Celma, Sébastien Lalanne, Diego Martín, Anne Serra, Pascale Arbillot
Credits: Scripted and directed by Guillaume Pierret. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:39