After scoring big on his last hit and reaching his quota, Charles decides to call it quits. However, quitting the assassin game isn't going to be that easy for Charlie-boy, as a few of his fellow hitmen have taken offense to the idea and would like to take his cash for themselves. Nothing Charles can't handle -- until his car is stolen by two petty small-time thieves and the maid he hired starts taking hostages, along with her boyfriend, in Charles's home. So much for a quiet retirement.
Not long after watching "Slim Susie" I received one of the latest titles to be picked up for distribution by Breaking Glass Pictures, "Dead In France". As usual, I had no idea about the movie other than the poster art was eye catching and immediately had me intrigued. It was a well timed movie to watch because if "Slim Susie" is the Swedish equivalent of a Tarantino inspired version of "Very Bad Things" then "Dead In France is the British Tarantino-esque version of "Grosse Pointe Blank". Except it doesn't have John Cusack in a kick-ass fight scene with professional kickboxer Benny "The Jet" Urquidez. Such is life, I guess.
And I apologize for the constant references and comparisons to Tarantino. Please know it's not easy for me and, quite frankly, leaves me disgusted with myself but the influences seem to be there.
Anyway, "Dead In France" is about a socially awkward hitman named Charles. After reaching his quota on contract killings and earning a serious amount of money on his last job, Charles decides to retire. Not until he kills the wife of another retired hitman, of course. He brings in a young woman named Lisa (who he becomes smitten with) to clean his house while he finishes his business for the day before officially quitting the game. That's when things start to go down hill for Charles. Between bitter rival hitmen who want to kill Charlie-boy and steal his earnings, two hapless wannabe crooks who steal Simon's car and Lisa's boyfriend taking people as hostages at Charles' house. His easy retirement becomes anything but.
Like I said in my "Slim Susie" review, these comedic crime flicks are often or often feel like rehashed material with typical storylines and characters. They're like the slasher sub-genre anymore. Not a bad thing as long as the jokes are good and there is competence behind the camera. "Dead In France" had both, I thought, so while it did feel a bit been-there-done-that, it was still a fun watch. Probably because it never tried to be anything more than what it is -- a ridiculous and ludicrous day in the life of a killer who is trying to call it quits.
There is a heavy focus on the characters in this movie; even if you don't remember their names you still remember each character. Something that has become a cliché but again not necessarily a bad thing depending on the story. It worked with "Dead In France" but the characters are taken a bit too far. Charles is the perfect protagonist, anti-hero character. Even though you watch him blow people's heads off with whatever gun he's packing, you still like the guy. The rest of the characters (outside of Lisa -- the only other character played pitch perfect), the ones who are fucking up Charles' day, are meant to be unlikeable but get taken to a point of being down right obnoxious. To a degree, it works because by the end of the movie you just want to see every one dead, but for all the wrong reasons. "Dead In France" doesn't operate in reality but the characters are still taken too far and too over-the-top to the point that every moment we spend with them the more aggravating it becomes.
Thankfully, the Sam Peckinpah-ish expected ending helps relieve a lot of that frustration that becomes pent up over the runtime. Doesn't make the annoyance okay but at least we get our cake (in a manner of speaking) even if we eat said cake angrily and bitterly, but I digress. The humor is what hit the mark for me with "Dead In France". While it wasn't good for the characters, it is good that the movie wasn't afraid of taking the comedy over-the-top and to the point of being unrealistic. Because it wasn't worried about realistic and was okay with being silly, it made "Dead In France" an easy watch. It also allows the movie to bounce between silly and dark with the comedy and it never feels out of place doing so. Granted there are some gags that you know are coming (usually the ones that involve a bullet in the brain) and yet some of them still feel surprising -- the movie gets to the punchline quicker than you expect.
"Dead In France" isn't a great movie due to the generic concept and collection of characters than can drive you crazy, but the preposterous comedy makes it an excellent flick if you want nothing more than popcorn entertainment. The movie has its flaws and probably won't work for everyone but the fact that it doesn't take itself completely seriously makes most of the short comings unimportant. Not counting the annoying characters. I cannot stress enough how goddamn irritating they were. Anyway, point is being you're not going to watch "Dead In France" if you want balls-to-the-wall action of people wasting gobs of ammunition trying to kill each other while shit blows up. It's simple fun that illustrates what a bad day is for an assassin -- a worthwhile title for an easy movie night.