by Tony Medley
Runtime 111 minutes
Not for children.
Hollywood has generally been good to The
Mob, picturing them either as cartoon characters or sympathetic men of
honor (The Godfather trilogy). Hollywood even has created
made-Mafia men movie stars (Michael
Squicciarini of The Sopranos).
But the mafia is not a joke and its
members have nothing to do with cartoons. While this film is
entertaining and humorous and rewarding, it is filled with violence and
the violence is generally made appealing because the stars are doing it,
often in a comedic way.
Robert De Niro is a Mafioso who has
turned government witness so is a target for Mafia hitmen. He is in the
witness protection program along with his wife, Michelle Pfieffer,
daughter Dianna Agron, and son John DíLeo, living in Normandy in France,
where it was filmed, overseen by federal agent Tommy Lee Jones.
What this film really has going for it,
other than the outstanding cast and location, is its director, Luc
Besson (who has a co-writing credit on the light-hearted, funny script
with Michael Caleo), who was responsible for the brilliant Liam Neeson
surprise runaway hit, Taken (2008). Besson continues his magic
here as he knows how to set up rewarding scenes in which bad guys get
their comeuppance, and there are a lot of those scenes here, made easier
since everyone in the film in a bad guy, including the good guys, except
the federal agents.
De Niro has become an accomplished
comedic actor (Analyze This and Analyze That), but he has
also participated in some deplorable films, like The Focker
trilogy that only produced one funny film. Here heís got a good script,
a good cast, and does a good job.
Pfieffer is still gorgeous and can still
give a terrific performance as she does here, but the people who really
stand out are the two children. Agron gives the best performance in the
film as a really sexy teenager coming of sexual age and DíLeo is
convincing as a manipulative chip off the old block.
The violence is the only thing that
turned me off because it is sometimes graphic and profuse. Worse, itís
played for laughs and rewarding revenge. An innocent man getting his leg
broken in many places by a baseball bat is not funny, no matter how De
Niro and Besson play it. My female companion cringed often throughout
the movie when the violence became too graphic.
But De Niro is playing a psychopath, and
he does it well, even if he does play it sympathetically.
This is an enjoyable film providing
needed escapist entertainment.
September 12, 2013