French Connection II

French Connection II

**1/2

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

As a follow-up to the widely-acclaimed (if, somewhat overrated) original, The French Connection II isn't terrible effort, it's just a little unneccessary. Of course, the driving force behind it was obviously a desire to revisit Gene Hackman's semi-iconic character NY narcotics detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, porkpie hat and all.

Still on the hunt for an elusive French drug kingpin, Doyle (Gene Hackman) heads to Marseilles, where he immediately clashes with local Inspector Henri Bathelemy (Bernard Fresson). Kidnapped by the drug-dealers and forced to take heroin to discredit him, Popeye is determined to get revenge..

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While director John Frankenheimer (replacing William Friedkin) wisely sought to get inside Doyle's head and understand him, you have to ask - why move to France, then? New York was crucial to Popeye's very being. There, he knew who was who and how things ticked. It made him who he is; that compelling hardass driven to get results, but not neccessarily by dint of his job or righteous morales. In Noo Yark he was the asshole king of the jungle, here he's just an asshole who doesn't know the language.

Aside from the fish-out-of-water angle not working, this is a decent genre thriller. Marseilles is shot nicely, while the final running (and running, and running) chase offers a a decent finale. Hackman is also super, as you'd expect, particularly during the lenghty middle section where we see his kidnappers force-injecting heroin into him and his subsequent cold turkey rehabilitation. The problem? This section stops the plot dead and the movie is never allowed to recover. Still, it distracts you from thinking about how implausible it is that a New York cop would be sent to France to chase someone down.

More a continuation than a true sequel, The French Connection II is a decent genre effort, but not a massively memorable one.

Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2011
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French Connection II packshot
Popeye Doyle tracks a drugs kingpin to Marseilles.
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Director: John Frankenheimer

Writer: Alexander Jacobs, Robert Dillon, Laurie Dillon, Pete Hamill

Starring: 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

Year: 1975

Runtime: 119 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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