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June 29, 2017

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22 Bullets (索命22顆子彈)

Based on Franz-Oliver Giesbert's 2007 novel "The Immortal," "22 Bullets" misses the mark on what could have been a decent mafia action thriller. Director Richard Berry seems to have forgotten how proper sequencing made action movies like "The Godfather" great.

EuropaCorp, the studio behind the film "Taken" (即刻救援), tries to recapture its 2008 glory by reformulating the "Taken" plot line in "22 Bullets."

Veteran actor Jean Reno (pictured) plays the lead character Charly Mattei, a retired mafia boss in Marseilles, France. Freed from his past life of crime, Mattei can now spend time with his mother, wife and two kids. However, as Mattei pulls into an underground parking lot, he is ambushed by eight masked gunmen and shot 22 times at point blank range. Surviving the volley of bullets, Mattei is nicknamed "The Immortal."

After Mattei discovers that the gunmen who attacked him are from his old gang, he goes on a killing rampage targeting his former cohorts one by one. With one arm permanently damaged from the parking lot attack, Mattei is basically a disabled assassin who seems to kill countless drug dealers without breaking a sweat.

The point-and-shoot-style killings in "22 Bullets" can be best described as mindless. The car chases are equally humdrum. Choppy scenes and unrealistic stunts only reinforce the idea that Reno had a stunt man. Without seeing the planning of each assault or confrontation, audiences will feel like Mattei's enemies are simply idiots.

Unlike Liam Neeson's strategic plans in "Taken," Reno's action scenes require him to appear from thin air and pull a trigger. Although about the same age as Neeson, Reno's stiff movements make him feel twice as old as Neeson. He seemed to have more difficulties with a wall of barbed wire outside one of the gang hideouts than anyone with a gun.

The movie really spreads itself thin when it adds the disconnected subplot of a female cop, played by Marina Fois, looking to get revenge for her dead husband. Not only does Fois' character seemingly fall into the cliché revenge-fueled-cop role, she also feels artificial and misplaced in the film, in general.

One area that the film does not lack is violence and blood. From the opening scene, audiences will see realistic destruction that a gunshot can inflict on a human body. Blood is freely spewing in every scene. The vicious beatings and shootings might have the most gore-craving moviegoer turn away in disgust.

Completed by the same film studio, "Taken" and "22 Bullets" have almost the same plots and scenes. However, "Taken" is vastly superior. "22 Bullets" lacks the acting power, thrilling action, and a connected storyline. It watches like a disastrous remake.

► Directed by Richard Berry / With Jean Reno, Kad Merad, Gabriella Wright and Richard Berry / Action / France / 2010 / 117 min. / French with Chinese subtitles / ★☆☆☆☆ / Now Showing

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