What is a 22 ball

22 bullets - criticism

In his new cinema production, Luc Besson lets his regular actor Jean Reno, as a former godfather, take revenge on his assassins with the usual confident professionalism.

As a port city and therefore a transit point for all kinds of goods and shapes, Marseille can look back on a long history of organized crime. since Justin de Marseille (1935) this city was therefore the setting for various gangster films. Director Richard Berry also stages the story of a former mafia boss who is cruelly confronted with his past.

Actually, Charly Mattheï (Jean Reno) had withdrawn from the mafia business in order to fully devote himself to his role as a family man. However, at the behest of his childhood friend and former partner Tony Zacchia (Kad Merad), he is the victim of an attack in which he is riddled with 22 bullets, in accordance with the German title. Charly survives, and it is clear that he has to do something about his "old family".

In addition to the central motif of the family, which relates to one or the other, the film emphasizes the confrontation between Charly and his "counterpart" Zacchia. The former sees himself as a representative of the honorable criminal who lives by a code. For him, women and children are inviolable. That's why he can initially change roles from mafioso to caring family man with a clear conscience. With the attack on Zacchia, who thinks nothing of such gangster morality and conducts his business rationally and unexplained, his previous life suddenly catches up with him.

However, these lines of conflict and motifs are more accessories than the core of the story. The essence of the film is the exaggeration and mythification of the protagonist. After the attack, Charly is "L’Immortel" (the original French title), the immortal. The film hardly allows time for the recovery phase, and the consequences of the injuries are limited to the fact that he can no longer feel his right hand. Even other extreme physical strains such as a motorcycle crash or the seal through barbed wire walls are unable to leave any serious traces on him.

Even if the character of Charly Mattheï is based on the notorious Marseille criminal Jacques Imbert, who survived a brutal attack in the 1970s, the film apparently does not want to be a biopic with realism claims. The real event of the assassination serves only as inspiration, which is spun on into the fictional campaign of revenge. Berry builds in a kind of retarding moment in that Charly, who is not even looking for revenge at first, first has to undergo a change of heart following the murder of his friend Karim (Moussa Maaskri). But then he strikes back all the more relentlessly.

22 bullets is clearly recognizable as a revenge movie. The film deliberately stays within the genre framework and successfully concentrates on staging Charly's reckoning with Zacchia and his people in an impressive and technically mature way.

The fact that the film works is largely due to the actors, who can convince right down to the supporting roles. Especially noticeable is Kad Merad as Zacchia. So far, Merad has been like through comedies Welcome to the Sch’tis(Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, 2008) or Little Nick(Le Petit Nicolas, 2009) known. Here he embodies a villain for the first time. His previous filmography is also making itself in 22 bullets latently noticeable, as his figure occasionally provides a certain amusement. Although a mafia boss, Zacchia is a highly sensitive hypochondriac whom his own people secretly call "the godmother".

The star persona comes into play much more obviously with lead actor Jean Reno 22 bullets mainly supports and to the creation of which Luc Besson contributed significantly. Already in his first feature film The last fight (Le Dernier Combat, 1983) Besson hired the then unknown Reno, who up to Léon - the professional (Léon, 1994) starred in each of his films. The role of the cleaner Léon, which Reno already focused on in Nikita (La femme Nikita, 1990) was able to join in with a brief appearance as Victor, finally meant his international breakthrough for him and also shaped most of his other characters significantly: cool and taciturn, dangerous and always confident, sometimes on one side of the law, sometimes on the other . In Besson's current production, his early commitment to Reno is paying off again. As one of the few really big European film stars, this one can do it 22 bullets to a decisive extent to be borne by its mere presence alone. To experience Jean Reno one more time as a professional who demonstrates how to master his craft with confidence, has unbroken its appeal.

Film review by Michael Fleig Print page

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