If you can get past the improbable concept that a man
can survive a hail of 22 .45 calibre bullets, drag his holely self out of
intensive care, set about on a mission to kick the butts of his persecutors, 22
Bullets is an entertaining, intense action thriller.
The irony is that the film is an adaptation
of Franz-Olivier Giesbert’s L’Immortel, that is
loosely based on real events, in which gangster Jacques Imbert suffered the same
fate, but in this case, it was a mere seven pieces of lead. After recovering
the use of his right hand, Imbert’s attackers, one by one, mysteriously met an untimely demise.
Jean Reno (Leon) plays Charly Matteï, a retired member of the French mafia, and lives
a peaceful life with his family in Marseille. After a soppy opening sequence,
establishing as such, Charly is blasted by guns, courtsey of eight hitmen whilst parking in an
underground car park. Even the accompanying puppy gets it right between the
eyes, whilst the ever-so cutesy young son is left waiting for his father,
watching a street performer’s show.
Even as he recovers in hospital, his rivals
do not let up, and want what’s left of his blood. Despite his wounds, including
severed nerves that he proves by stabbing cutlery in his leg, he learns how to
shoot with his left hand. It’s game on as Charly hunts down his would-be
assassins whilst trying to protect his family.
A tough female dectective, Marie Goldman
(Foïs), is on the war-path with her own agenda in mind. She believes Matteï
will lead her to the person who gunned down her husband. Otherwise, the police
are fairly happy with the mafiso offing each other.
Directed by Richard Berry, who also had a
small role in the film, 22 Bullets is somewhat predictable, using every cliché
in the book, with few surprises. This is basically a straightforward tale of
good guys versus the bad guys with plenty of brutal violence, if that is your
bag, with Reno is as reliable and as cool as ever.