The comic book origins of Largo Winch are never far from the surface in this 2008 French film adaptation directed by Jérôme Salle of the best selling series of Belgian graphic novels.
Even English-speaking audiences, to whom the original will mean little, cannot however avoid getting caught up in and enjoying the furious action that is at the core of the film.
The film compresses the book series into a single storyline, involving the future of a multinational company, built up by a single powerful individual, Nerio Winch, played by Miki Manojlovic. When Winch is killed at the start of the film, the question is obviously why. In explaining this, the film takes us back and forward both in time and in place, between Hong Kong where the company is based and Croatia, where Nerio and his son originate. Only by understanding the circumstances of Largo’s birth can we understand how his father came to his death and how the complex family background leads to a power struggle for control of the company after his death.
It is soon revealed that Nerio had an adopted son who has been groomed by the father to take over the company. He is, however, a somewhat reluctant heir, preferring adventures in Brazil to the rigidities of corporate life in Hong Kong. The son, Largo, is played by French comedian and actor Tomer Sisley and this may well be the role that brings his talents to a wider audience outside the French speaking world.
At its heart, the film is a struggle between good, represented by Largo and evil, personified by Kristin Scott-Thomas, the vice chairman of the company who is not quite the devoted company servant she seems to be.
If evil is ultimately defeated, it is entirely due to Largo who besides his good looks has all the action hero attributes to see off the many attempts made on his life. At its best when following these twists and turns, the film will remind many of James Bond and while not perhaps at the same level of sophistication as the stunts in Casino Royale, those in the film are nonetheless gripping, leaving us all to wonder just how our hero is going to escape death this time.
Not surprisingly, given the origins of the film, the boardroom scenes are much less convincing and anyone who has ever attended a corporate board meeting will find them hard to recognise. But that hardly matters with a plot that offers glamorous locations, slick chase scenes and characters who manage to get beyond their two dimensional origins.
Here is the trailer for the film:
This review was written by guest blogger David Stragowitz. Lets us know what you think of his review.