Today: April 10, 2024

Lucky Luke

French-Belgium comic cowboy Lucky Luke brought to vibrant life in this live-action adaptation.

It’s easy to think that before The ArtistJean Dujardin was a quiet reclusive actor plying is trade in his native France.  Although it was his silent, Oscar winning film-star turn in the aforementioned film that brought him to the world’s attention, he has long been an actor with immense screen presence.  An actor with huge range, see Little White Lies for his more serious side, he is always at his best when playing larger than life comedic characters.  His turn as JamesBond spoof Agent OSS 117, which puts Michal Meyer’s Austin Powers firmly to shame, being just one example of his ability to charm with slap-stick cool.  If that sounds like an oxymoron then that probably sums up Dujardin better than anything.

So it is with great delight that much of his back catalogue of films are going to be enjoyed by a wider audience thanks to his now global reputation.  First up isLucky Luke.  Based on the French-Belgium comic Lucky Luke (Dujardin) returns home to Daisy Town to clean up the mess.  There he encounters the nefarious Pat Poker (Daniel Prevost) who provokes Luke into killing him.  Something Luke has sworn to never do.  With his luck gone Luke becomes a target for all the evildoers he has put behind bars.  In particular Billy The Kid (Michael Youn) and Jesse James (Melvil Poupaud).  But with the President’s life in danger can Luke find his mojo and more importantly his trusty Colt to save the day?

Created by Maurice De Bevere, Lucky Luke is a hugely popular comic series which has been translated into no less than 23 languages.  That his cultural cousins Tintin and Asterix often overshadow him is a crying shame.  After all what better source for a movie premise than a cowboy who can shoot faster than his own shadow?  So while last year saw Tintin go all CGI on us this Franco-Belgian outing is arguably more routed in its comic book origins.

Yes there’s a lack of solid plot, more a case of a string of inventive set-pieces and homage to the Western genre, but it’s vibrant and bright in a way most films wouldn’t have the courage to follow through on.  There’s a hint of Mel Gibson’s Maverick in here, quiet down it’s a better film than you give it credit for and you know it, and there’s enough visual gags to keep you smiling throughout.  In truth if the upcoming Lone Rangermovie is half as quirky as this we’re in for a fun time.

If there is a down side it’s that Lucky Luke is sometimes hard to gage who its aimed at.  The comic book origins, the vivid colours, the talking horse and slap-stick humour imply a kids friendly romp, but at times it boarders on hostile and the occasional violence towards women is not something you’d want to encourage in anyone, let alone a child.

Dujardin is arguably the only person who could play Lucky Luke.  His resemblance to the cartoon character, huge quiff and all, is uncanny and you cannot help but fall for those charming Dujardin ways.  Like Johnny Depp, Dujardin is an actor who is able to play caricature with huge heart.  In his hands Luke is both larger than life but believable, like a Captain Jack Sparrow or Edward Scissorhands you fall for him without question.  It takes a true master of the craft to give credence to these roles and Dujardin does it with ease.

Over the top and fairly forgettable Lucky Luke is never anything but fun.  Quick on the draw and faster on the visual gag, this is one cowboy who has more than earned his spurs.  Saddle up.

 

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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