Those with a fetish for the smashing of faces — against rocks, bourbon glasses, windshields, and the like — might enjoy Edgar Marie’s crime thriller Paris Countdown.
The sensory violence doesn’t end there.
Marie, in his film debut, prefers his colors loud and tacky, setting key confrontations in neon-lit tanning salons and lofts. And Paris Countdown‘s sound editors have clearly worked overtime. In a riveting early torture sequence, a rogue cop drills into a detainee’s eardrum; at several later points, Marie blasts out the soundtrack with the screaming ringing in that character’s ears.
If only these visceral shocks were at the service of a less conventional story. Victor (Jacques Gamblin) and Milan (Olivier Marchal) are longtime friends and co-owners of a dying Paris nightclub. After the drug deal they are lured into goes perilously wrong, they inform on its orchestrator, the goblin-like Serki (Carlo Brandt); six years later, Serki, sprung from jail, wants revenge.
The faint drama that emerges from the various street brawls, stabbings, and shoot-outs concerns Victor and Milan’s tension-fraught reunion. Victor, now a family man and legit restaurateur, can’t shake his loyalty to the desperate, aimless Milan. Marie manages one wrenching kicker: After the two separate and attempt to hide from the thugs, Marie cross-cuts between Victor’s obliging, comforting wife and Milan’s shrieking, estranged ex, who shoves him back out into danger.
Mostly, though, the skirmishes are alternately silly and wan. The film’s gloomy techno score is its most lasting attribute.