Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 51 min.
Our Advisories (0-10): Violence 6; Language 6; Sex-Nudity 2.
Star rating (1-5): 2
Why do the wicked renounce God,
and say in their hearts, ‘You will not call us to account’?
If one does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and strung his bow;
he has prepared his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
See how they conceive evil,
and are pregnant with mischief,
and bring forth lies.
They make a pit, digging it out,
and fall into the hole that they have made.
Their mischief returns upon their own heads,
and on their own heads their violence descends.
To borrow from an old Catholic motto, “The family that preys together stays together.” Or so says action film director Luc Besson in this tribute to two genres—the mob and the family film. Indeed, people of faith will have to approach this bloody crime drama as a take off on both the crime drama (especially of The Godfather/Good Fellas variety) and family genres (think Brady Bunch on steroids and LSD). Otherwise their sense of moral propriety would prevent us from appreciating its humor and cartoonish violent ending.
Robert De Niro is Fred Manzoni, a mobster hiding out in France with his family under a Federal Witness Protection program because he has turned states evidence on his old pals. The latter, of course, are trying to find and wipe them out. Tommy Lee Jones is the hapless CIA agent Robert Stansfield forced to bail them out of trouble. Manzoni is the abrasive kind of guy who cannot blend into his environment, so some violent incident he perpetrated has forced Stansfield to uproot them from their original refuge in sunny southern France and transpose them to a small village in Normandy.
Also a fish out of water film, this shows the gangster father and his teenage daughter and son all resorting to excessive violence when coping with villagers/classmates who cross them. The kids probably will grow up to be all too much like their parents, if they live so long. Only wife Maggie (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) seems to have any touch of faith (there is a funny scene in which she goes to confession and unburdens so many sins that the shocked priest runs away from her), but we earlier see that it had no ethical connections—when a snooty, American-bashing grocer disses her, she blows the place up. This is one gal you don’t want to cross.
You might, as I did, find yourself feeling guilty about rooting for such a ruthless, vicious killer, but then what other crook do you know who is writing his memoirs one peck at a time on an old typewriter? A very funny film, but be warned of the gutter language (one instance of which is hilarious!), bloody climax, and skewered values.