The Connection has the thrill of the chase, suspense, two brilliant calculating minds pitted against one another, and awe, as it becomes more and more clear how broad the involvement in illegal activity extends up to high levels of government and across geographical space. It also shows the value of persistence and belief in oneself in pursuing justice—but as well the tremendous price one may have to pay for it eventually.
The star, the award-winning Jean Dujardin (The Artist, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Monuments Men), plays a newly appointed magistrate in Marseilles, France, Pierre Michel, who comes to the job reluctantly, preferring to stay on at his current job in the juvenile system. But the drug trade has reached such proportions, he is pressured into accepting the new position, and he immediately goes to work on the case. The kingpin of the drug cartel, Gaëtan “Tany” Zampa (Lellouche), is portrayed as a worthy counterpart to Michel—and the actors even resemble one another in physical appearance and smart attire. I think this resemblance is purposeful in illustrating how criminals may not Iook the part, can be as measured and intelligent in solving problems as the good guys, and value loyalty and family traditions just as much. One of the eeriest, chilling scenes in the film is the two men meeting face to face on a relatively deserted road in the mountains and exchanging veiled threats and dares. Clearly, they are equal matches.
Michel is persistent and calculating in setting up traps to bring in Zampa; aware of Zampa’s values in loyalty and being a father figure, the magistrate begins rounding up a wide swath of Zampa’s men, even those closest to him. Zampa is also calculating and rather cold-hearted despite some of his other traits, and he expects to elude Michel’s efforts by ramping up his efforts to close an important deal in the U.S. However, this means the FBI will get involved, which ups the ante.
The film is inspired by a true story, the same one from which William Friedkin’s 1971 film, The French Connection, was drawn, but this French writer/director, Cedric Jimenez, wanted his version to be viewed from a European perspective. I think he is successful in this effort, and the story is worth telling again as a fresh take on the drug business, which is still plaguing us today, a problem that reaches to government involvement at the highest levels in some countries.
Jimenez is a producer who came to screen writing and directing only recently, and he does a credible job in making The Connection exciting and suspenseful, helped greatly by Dujardin’s and Lellouche’s fine acting.
The price of justice may be ever so dear.
Grade: B By Donna R. Copeland