FRENCH CONNECTION II

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French Connection II Cover France is such a beautiful country to visit. It has places of historical significance. It has the urban bustle of a Utopian metropolis. Plus on top of that, it also has plush green meadows bristling amongst the countryside. However, to juxtapose all of these pleasantness for a moment or two, there's also the down side too. One depicted in this film Directed by John Frankenheimer; and Starring: Gene Hackman, Bernard Fresson, and Fernando Rey. It was made in 1975, and lasts for 119 minutes.


French Connection II


THE STORY:
Poor New York Police Detective, Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle (Gene Hackman). He thought that it was a good idea, if he flew off to France, and aided Inspector Henri Barthélémy (Bernard Fression), of the Paris police force, apprehend the drug smuggler, Alain Charnier (Fernando Ray).

Well, that's why he agreed to go in the first place.

But no. Henri does not want to work with Popeye because of his dubious reputation. Alain does not want any police presence because he is setting up another drug deal. Plus Popeye cannot understand what the hell anybody is saying to him.

However, ways and means are set in motion for a particular reason you know. And that reason, unbeknownst to Popeye, is that his trip was pre-planned, so that his presence could goad Alain out into the open, so that the French police could nab him in the act.

Good plan, huh? But does it work? Err – yes and no. Yes – Alain manages to get his hands on Popeye and then incarcerates him in a dingy motel. No – Alain does this at the same time that Popeye manages to out maneuver the French police officers whom are following him.

Ooops!

Now alas, for three long weeks, Alain and his henchmen gag and drug Popeye within a dingy hotel room, trying their best to break his spirits and dampen his resolve, just long enough for him to tell them what the police know of their plans. And then, when this ploy eventually works, they dump poor Popeye in front of police headquarters, barely hanging on to dear life.

OK, so what do the Police do about this in turn, huh? Make Souffle? Well, the only thing they can do really – detoxify Popeye for another long period of time – whilst simultaneously trying to figure out what Alain is up to.

Ha! And that is most probably why what next transpired begins when Popeye is back on his feet again. As hotels burn down - drug-smuggling ships drown - French authorities clash - and the gang can not help end this Parisian adventure with a clash.

BANG!




THE REVIEW:
I first visited Paris quite a few years ago, staying with a good friend of mine, Fabien, who showed me the sights and all of that sort of thing. The Louvre. The Arc De Triomphe. The garlic women. And the effeminate men. All of these things graced my senses by the day, making me do what most Brits do when they travel abroad. No - not get pissed, and then regurgitate on the pavement. Instead, I had the compulsion to compare Paris to London, didn't I! And do you know what I ascertained during my Parisian pontification? Basically, nigh on most European cities all look the same yet different. They have similar grand and regal capitals. They have similar mixture of grungy / plush suburbs. They have similar travel facilities. And they have the same smell of urine emanating around their underground / metro network.

OK, I am sure that you are wondering to yourself, why I am telling you about my travel tale, huh? Well, not only does it illustrate to you that I have been to Paris before, but it also illustrates what I feel about 'French Connection II' as well – ‘The same yet very different’. Well, that's what I first thought, as soon as I watched this sequel to the now legendary ‘French Connection’ film.


French Connection II


But how can this be, huh? How '2' be the same yet very different to its predecessor? It does not make any sense. Or does it?

OK, for a start, these two films do share two of the main characters – Popeye and Alain – but manages to use them in a completely different way. Alain seems more elusive in this film, and his part is much more fleeting also. Whilst Popeye in the other hand seems more human in this film, and his character more amenable.

Then, there is the overall story that this film is trying to convey. You see, basically, it is a ‘hide and seek’ movie – like the first one was – while at the same time adding additional elements into the mix, thus making the plot less structured, and the overall pretext more expansive. For example, due to the blatant French ambiance, Popeye is used as a 'fish out of water' type character. Moreover, due to Popeye’s unfamiliarity within these surroundings, it makes him seem more of a patsy, allowing for the whole ‘kidnap and release’ part of the story to seem more plausible.


Gene in French Connection II


Personally speaking, I feel that this 'additional layer' acts as a double edged sword within the scheme of things. Positively, Popeye’s character does come through more within the confines of the story. And negatively, because the overall story does seem somewhat fractured by its thee act structure. Act 1: Popeye in France – Act 2: Popeye gets’ drugged up and then detoxifies – and Act 3: Popeye gets his man. Do you see what I mean?

However, whilst saying all of this, at the same time the ‘French Connection II’ is a great film, and is a really enjoyable watch . Primarily, this is because all of the actors involved – especially Gene Hackman, who really excels himself in this role, and is able to convey both character and plot in the most supple way. Also, there is that 'air of mystery' to this movie has too – giving it that supple yet holistic flavor like many other seventies flicks have. Oh! And how can I forget to mention France, huh? This location in itself does aide in the overall telling of this tale, garnishing it with herbs and spices like a... a... a... opps... I am feeling hungry now.


Gene in French Connection II


So if you are a fan of the first film, or other films such as 'Rush Hour', or 'Lost in Translation', then this is defiantly a film for you. Granted, its not deemed a classic like its predecessor, but that does not mean that it is not a good film all the same. Bon Appetite.

THE RATING: A