Saturday, 25 June 2011

The French Connection Review

I sometimes have to remind myself that, in the 1970s, blood was a lot lighter in colour and had a much creamier consistency.  In watching this film, I constantly had to keep thinking, "it was made forty years ago and was cutting edge for its time."  By today's standards, this would have been received much like the American was and with good cause.  For most of the film, nothing happens.  It's not much more than one long stakeout until there's about a half an hour left.  The difference between it and the American, though, is that I was never really bored watching the French Connection.  While it seems that nothing is happening, it also seems to move along.  The plot progresses without much dialogue for most of the time.

Performance standards in the industry were also different 40 years ago.  This movie won best picture, director, editing, writing and lead actor for 1971.  Watching it now, one might wonder why.  There is really nothing spectacular about any of it.  In fact, it even had that shaky camera work that I just find irritating.  But, 40 years ago, that would have been seen as groundbreaking.  Hackman's performance, while solid, wasn't really worthy of a huge award like that.  I can only think that the movie did very well, got all that buzz from the industry and had weaker competition.  Don't get me wrong, it isn't bad.  It's a solid story with solid performances.  I just didn't think that it was a "five oscar movie."  But, again, I am watching from a 2011 perspective.

Lastly, I was led to believe that the French Connection has one of the best car chases of all time.  I'm still waiting to see it.  Even for the time, I don't think there is anything really innovative about Gene Hackman chasing a train.  After all, there's only one place the train can go.  So there's no real unknown element of surprise with it.  The best car chases have cars getting cut off and making crazy turns and such.  While the car vs. train is interesting, it is far from one of the best of all time.

If you like crime thriller movies, it might be worth seeing for its historical value in the genre.  Otherwise, don't see it.  You'd probably be bored.  Watch the Bourne Identity instead.

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