’22 Bullets’ Review: A Thrilling Action Movie With Jean Reno’s Mark

In the movie 22 Bullets. Jean Reno stars as Charly Mattei, a fictionalised rendition of a real life French mafia boss who survived a brutal assassination attempt against all odds and proceeded to exact revenge on his aggressors.

Mattei is shot twenty-two times after a brief opening sequence, and from then on the film is a taut, fast-paced thriller that shifts between time-zones, characters and set pieces in a frenzy. Establishing its back story through a few brief flashbacks, Richard Berry’s film doesn’t spend too much time catching its breath.

The Action film’s central theme is similar to Michael Mann’s tried and tested ‘cop vs. bad guy’ routine, although here the question is not so much about a police officer and a gangster, but rather two gangsters, one of whom has decided to ‘retire’ from his old life (Mattei), and the other who most certainly hasn’t. Can retiring from a life of crime make you a better person even when, as Charly philosophises, ‘spilled blood never dries,’?

In the end 22 Bullets fails to live up to its potential by descending into a series of ‘hits’ that, whilst they carry a perverse level of justice that is satisfying on one level, end up diluting the film’s sense of character and pathos. It could have been something much more. But 22 Bullets is unfortunately not much more than a fairly well made revenge thriller.

Movie Info

Rating: NR
Genre: Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: Richard Berry
Written By: Eric Assous, Mathieu Delaporte, Richard Berry, Alexandre de la Patellière
In Theaters: Nov 8, 2013 Limited
Cast: Jean Reno, Kad Merad, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Marina Foïs
Runtime: 117 minutes

What are the Critics saying about ‘22 Bullets‘?

David Gritten (Daily Telegraph – UK)

Its many memorable characters, adrenalin-charged action sequences and heart-stopping car chases make for a guilty pleasure.

Jason Goodyer (Little White Lies)

A generic, derivative gangster yarn.

Tim Evans (Sky Cinema)

There are few surprises but the blood-spattered action is handle with aplomb. Reno manages to keep a straight face when obliged to deliver the occasional lecture on morality.

Catherine Shoard (Guardian)

When the chief baddie both stutters and slaughters puppies, you know you’re in trouble.

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