With Viktor, Gérard Depardieu Gets His Own Taken


Philippe Martinez’s Viktor — basically a tighter, Moscow-set, Gérard Depardieu–starring version of The Equalizer — opens with a ballet rehearsal led by choreographer Souliman (Eli Danker).

This sets up an aura of refinement that runs throughout the film: Souliman is the right-hand man to protagonist Viktor (Depardieu, as of recently a Russian citizen), whose just-completed seven-year prison term was awarded for the relatively elegant charge of art-thievery. Moreover, the movie’s underworld figures are less concerned with drugs than with peddling diamonds. But make no mistake: Once Viktor gets wind of his son’s recent murder, his sense of culture doesn’t mean he’s against a surge of violence.

A typical example: Before tearing chunks of skin out of the thigh of a corrupt Italian lawyer (Marcello Mazzarella), he enjoys a steak and a glass of red wine in his victim’s company. Many scenes go like this, with Viktor pushing people — his late son’s pregnant girlfriend (Polina Kuzminskaya), a ruthless diamond kingpin (Denis Karasev) — just far enough that they give him the next name or clue he needs to understand his son’s death. Alongside Souliman, Viktor’s chief partner in crime is nightclub owner Alexandra Ivanov (played with extra glamour by Elizabeth Hurley).

As Viktor, Depardieu — whose default expression these days is pissed-off — plows through enemies in a cakewalk; from the first glimpse of him, a low-angle shot of Viktor standing on a luxury boat, he’s a force that can’t be stopped. But aside from some inspired uses of chiaroscuro lighting, the movie around Depardieu is mostly derivative, its membership in the post-Taken lineage confirmed when Viktor murmurs into the phone, “I just wanted you to hear the voice of the man who’s going to kill you.”