Largo Winch - Deadly Revenge

Largo Winch - Deadly Revenge

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Straddling the line between the boardroom machinations of Michael Clayton and being Bourne again, comes this action thriller with a pan-European flavour, although, in fact, the titular Largo predates Jason Bourne by some years, having been created as a Belgian comic book character back in the 1970s.

Plucked from a Croatian orphanage as a toddler by a self-made millionaire Nerio Winch (Miki Manojlovic), Largo grows up not with the business mogul - who owns the formidable W Group - but squirrelled away with a foster family. Rather than being adopted because Nerio is desperate for a son, he views Largo as a living and breathing insurance policy for his empire, and makes him his sole heir, so that even if his corporate enemies do away with him, they won't get their paws on his cash. When the inevitable happens and daddy turns up dead, Largo finds himself dragged into the boardroom by the acting company director (Kristen Scott Thomas), who wants him to head-off a takeover of the group by dodgy-dealing rival Korsky (Karel Roden). But it isn't long before Largo realises that it's not just Korsky who's out to kill him.

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German star Tomer Sisley brings a winning level of charm to Largo, rising to the physicality of the role and injecting humour, but never letting it slip into pastiche, while director and co-writer Jérôme Salle knows what he is doing in terms of the action set pieces, which are engagingly realistic without being overblown - or, for that matter, blown up. It's refreshing, too, that the filmmakers aren't scared to use multiple languages through the course of the film, including English, French and Croatian, which helps give proceedings a believable international vibe.

The action framework may be sturdy to a point but as the film progresses it begins to buckle under the weight of financial plot. The set-up is perfunctory but the machinations so involved that, periodically, the action is halted in order to feed us a wholesome chunk of exposition. There is never any real indication of how Largo comes to be such a well-trained fighter/athlete - save for an unlikely reference to an 'invincibility' tattoo - which would be fine, except for the fact that the narrative is over-embellished in other areas. It's as if Salle and co-writer Julien Rappeneau (36 Quai Les Offevres) have the urge to shove the plot equivalent of a fancy fur coat on the corporate shenanigans in order to compensate for the fact that the back story is wearing no knickers.

A subplot involving femme fatale (Melanie Thierry) also fails to get enough screentime and the actors in the boardroom - with the exception of Scott Thomas - might as well be made out of board for all the emotion they bring to their roles. Despite its failings, however, there is still enough intrigue and emotional resonance to make this a perfectly serviceable way to spend an evening. Sequel The Burma Conspiracy, from the same team, is currently in the works (which also holds out the promise of Sharon Stone in a bit part) - perhaps now they've got the inevitably awkward 'origins' story out of the way, they will be able to strike a better balance between action and plot. The promise of Sisley's stubble-tastic charms alone, make it worth looking out for.

Reviewed on: 24 Aug 2010
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Largo Winch - Deadly Revenge packshot
A man tries to stay alive and track down the killer of his adopted father.
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Director: Jérôme Salle

Writer: Julien Rappeneau, Jérôme Salle, Jean Van Hamme, Philippe Francq

Starring: Tomer Sisley, Kristin Scott Thomas, Miki Manojlovic, Mélanie Thierry, Gilbert Melki, Karel Roden, Steven Waddington, Anne Consigny, Radivoje Bukvic, Nicolas Vaude, Benedict Wong, Gérard Watkins, Wolfgang Pissors, Theodore Thomas, David Gasman

Year: 2008

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France, Belgium

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If you like this, try:

The Bourne Identity
Casino Royale