Director Richard Berry's Gallic gangster flick

The French crime thriller has undergone something of a resurgence of late largely due to the Mesrine films and the wildly successful A Prophet. Entering into this bloody fray of Gallic gangsterism steps Richard Berry’s 22 Bullets.

Loosely based on the life and ‘hard to kill’ near death of a Marseille crime lord who survived being shot with, yep - count ‘em - twenty-two bullets, Jean Reno’s Charly Mattei is a man of extreme violence cast in a sympathetic light. He’s caught up in the old clichéd dilemma of wanting to go straight - or at least, straightish - but they just keep sucking him back in. When his former partners in crime use his best mate’s head as a football, he embarks upon a good old revenge mission, knocking them off one by one in entertaining fashion.

And that’s about it. The action is stylish and engaging but we never fully understand Mattei’s thought processes and motivations apart from some old school criminal code ideals and a loyalty to friends and family. Reno plays him with charm and vigour and remains likeable even when gunning a victim down in cold blood. Decent underworld fun but in need of a bit more of the epic.


Words by Rob Monk

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