When Mike Blueberry (Vincent Cassel) was a teenager, he was sent to a tiny town in the Wild West to learn a trade, taught by his uncle (Tchéky Karyo) in the ways of hard labour. But one of the prostitutes at the local brothel, Madeleine (Vahina Geocante), caught his attention and vice versa, so as soon as he was able he took a horse and sneaked out of his new home to visit her, then spent one night of passion in her room. However, that night would turn to tragedy when outlaw Wally Blount (Michael Madsen) walked through the door, toting a gun...
This scene is a key one in Blueberry's life, as we see over the course of the rest of it when he keeps worrying at the memory as if it was a loose tooth, which may have you hoping he'll get over it sooner rather than later because frankly it was getting monotonous. This was director Jan Kounen's adaptation of Jean "Moebius" Girard's comic books in the Western genre, which had many fans, Kounen among them, but found few admirers for his silver screen version of the stories. This was mostly because for reasons best known to himself he opted to make this as mind-expanding as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, or that appeared to be the motivation, so there were a hefty dose of drugs involved.
Maybe not behind the camera (though, hey, who knows?) but certainly in the story itself as Blueberry is adopted by the nearby Indian tribe after he escapes Wally with a bullet in his shoulder and the realisation that he did not do enough to save the life of Madeleine, who was killed instantly when she got a bullet between the eyes. In the flashbacks he was played by British actor Hugh O'Conor, who didn't bear an especially remarkable resemblance to Cassel, though the latter's beard helped a little in obscuring that. It was a far better beard than the stuck-on one Colm Meaney wore, a dreadful item of unconvincing facial furniture for now-Marshal Blueberry's right hand man, who apropos of not much struggles throughout with dentistry.
Meaney wasn't the only recognisable celebrity appearing in a rather strange cast, as Juliette Lewis was the love interest who gets to sing (poorly), and her father Geoffrey Lewis was her character's father, a town official who is very protective of the land around the area. Then there was Ernest Borgnine as the world's oldest Sheriff, in a wheelchair which can't have been easy to navigate with through all that dirt and dust, Djimon Hounsou who ends up scalped - while still alive, and he survives it too - and Temuera Morrison, a Maori operating as a passable Indian, but no less odd for showing up all the same. Eddie Izzard was the duplicitous gold seeker who secures the journal to the treasure's location, which Wally is so keen to get.
While the plot points were largely familiar from any number of other Westerns, it was the drugs which offered a fresh angle, but to the exclusion of such standards as the gunfight, which appeared almost as an afterthought and then as if Kounen simply wasn't interested, strange from the director of Dobermann. The trips, triggered by downing a potion which may be peyote and may be some invented concoction, were illustrated by computer graphic-heavy fantasy sequences that may have been appropriately weird, but were never anything believable, and that in spite of how much the script relied on them to advance the plot. Therefore the big showdown between Blueberry and Wally wasn't guns at high noon, it was Blueberry finding his peace by getting stoned out of his mind in a fashion more distracting than enlightening for us in the audience. Stick with it and we were rewarded with the sight of a naked Juliette spreading her legs for us while swimming, though it's debatable how welcome that actually was. Music by Jean-Jacques Hertz and François Roy.