Thriller The Prey Remains Rooted in the Plausible


With the advent of bullet-cam and the various slo-mo elements used as visual punctuation, American blockbusters often veer into muscle-bound, shoot-’em-up fantasy. Eric Valette’s action thriller The Prey (La Proie), on the other hand, roots itself in the realm of the possible, if not always the plausible. Convicted bank robber Franck Adrien (Albert Dupontel) trusts the wrong man in prison, and soon his former cellmate, sex offender Jean-Louis Maurel (Stéphane Debac), has placed his wife and child in jeopardy, and is framing him for a string of teen killings. When Adrien breaks out of prison to protect his family, detective Claire Linné (Alice Taglioni) is pulled away from dismantling a crime family and charged with tracking him down. DNA evidence points to The Fugitive in this thriller’s lineage, although an exhilarating foot chase through oncoming Paris traffic reveals traces of John Frankenheimer’s Ronin. Resourceful Dupontel and dogged Taglioni—in spite of a superior who dismisses her investigative hunches as “feminine intuition”—are well matched as the two protagonists working at cross-purposes, and Debac’s unassuming serial killer operates with mousy menace. The script, by producers Luc Bossi and Laurent Turner, plays fair with the viewer, and offers a few extra moving parts in its clockwork, in the form of a grieving father and a disgraced former cop. If the thrills it yields are expected ones, the pleasure in the formula remains.