HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
Critters Attack
Prison on Fire
Dragged Across Concrete
Do the Right Thing
Hellboy
Pond Life
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The
Third Wife, The
Shazam!
Follow Me
Leto
Fugitive Girls
Missing Link
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
Pet Sematary
Oh... Rosalinda!!
Dumbo
Kaleidoscope
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, The
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Klute
Meow
Killer Crocodile
Nutcracker Prince, The
Secret World of Og, The
Benjamin
Fifth Cord, The
Man Could Get Killed, A
Cyborg 009: Kaiju War
Heavy Trip
Nightmare Weekend
Blue Ice
Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, The
Incident, The
Hell's Angels
Heaven and Earth
Flatliners
   
 
Newest Articles
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
Things Have Changed: Films You'd Be Insane to Make Now
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
   
 
  French Connection II Popeye The Failer ManBuy this film here.
Year: 1975
Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Bernard Fresson, Philippe Léotard, Ed Lauter, Charles Millot, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Cathleen Nesbitt, Samantha Llorens, André Penvern, Reine Prat, Raoul Delfosse, Ham-Chau Luong, Jacques Dynam, Malek Kateb, Pierre Collet
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: New York police officer James "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) has arrived in Marseilles to track down the man at the head of a costly heroin smuggling operation, Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), who he believes - correctly - is operating out of the port. But once he finds the French officer who is his contact, Barthélémy (Bernard Fresson), with his hands inside some fish he's cutting open, Doyle wonders what kind of operation he's gotten into, the explanation being that the cops were fooled into seeking drugs inside the merchandise. But it becomes clear the authorities want Doyle here for one reason: to set him up.

French Connection II happened along three years after the William Friedkin classic which had won acclaim around the world, but seemingly because it ended on a brilliantly conceived note of uncertainty, the studio were clamouring to spoil that open lack of resolution with a more concrete finale, even if it took a whole two hour movie to do so. Thus the sequel was organised, and a reluctant Hackman coaxed back into action as the character who had awarded him star status, this time relocated to France and with Rey as the other returning actor, necessary because presumably we were supposed to want to see him receive his just desserts. Yet was there more to this than wringing out more cash from fans of the original?

Not really, but you could see why Hackman agreed to do it, as he got to improvise and be the centre of attention for the whole of the movie, which sounded like a perfectly good idea until you saw his embarrassingly self-indulgent performance, undoing all the good work he had put in during the first film. It was very strange to see the usually reliable Hackman delivering one of his extremely rare bad appearances, even more so considering the Popeye Doyle character was the one which had changed his career and opened it up to so much terrific acting, gathering fans of his muscular style throughout the world. But if anybody tells you that he was perfectly fine in this, mention two words: cold turkey.

What happens is that Doyle is in Marseilles to lure the bad guys out of hiding to try and get their revenge on him, or at least get him out of the way, but rather than put a bullet in his head which you may have thought would be more effective, they opt for a more grim form of poetic anti-justice. They kidnap him from the streets and take him to a dingy hotel where he is pumped full of heroin, leaving him insensible (as proof little old lady Cathleen Nesbitt steals his watch from his wrist). Three weeks later, Popeye is retrieved by the police and taken to dry out in one of their cells. If watching him loll around wasn't bad enough, there then follows what feels like half an hour of Hackman rambling about chocolate bars and baseball which kills the already sluggish plot stone dead.

Watching this great actor try to hit a thrown apple with a chicken leg as a bat is not how you should remember him, but here it is. Director John Frankenheimer picked up the pace a bit once Doyle is straight again and seeking to get his own back, with the New Yorker returning to the hotel and dousing it with petrol, then setting it on fire ("Exterminator - you got rats, buddy!"), then a waterlogged action scene which must have reminded the star of The Poseidon Adventure, followed by finally the best sequence in the film as Doyle chases after Charnier on foot through the streets. Even then, they try to replicate the ending of the original with an abrupt close, except here they're having their cake and eating it too. Even for an unpromising concept, there are parts of French Connection II which almost redeem it, the odd laugh, the occasional action bit, but at its heart is a star out of control and a director with a shaky grasp of what made the source so great. Music by Don Ellis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2067 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

John Frankenheimer  (1930 - 2002)

American director, from television, who really shone in the sixties with intelligent suspense movies and dramas like Birdman of Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, The Train, Seven Days in May, Seconds and Grand Prix, but lost his touch from the seventies onward, with titles like The Iceman Cometh, 99 and 44/100% Dead, Black Sunday, Prophecy, The Holcroft Covenant, 52 Pick-Up, Dead Bang and The Island of Dr Moreau standing out, not always for the right reasons. Thriller Ronin was his swan song.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: