Thursday, June 6, 2013


Franck Adrien (Albert Dupontel) in The Prey.
The hunted and the hunters

By John Esther

Franck Adrien (Albert Dupontel -- AKA Pierre, the intellectual gone amok with a fire extinguisher in Irreversible) is a bank robber doing time in prison. Although he is a loner who just wants to be left alone to serve his time, others will not let Franck alone. He has a stack of money hidden from his last job, but he does not trust anyone -- including his incredulously attractive wife, Anna (Caterina Murino), who is left alone to support their mute daughter, Amélie (Jaïa Caltagirone) -- enough to disclose the whereabouts of the loot. This makes quite a few people mad, but Franck can handle himself.

At least he thought he could. Poor tough Franck shares his prison cell with Jean-Louis Maurel (Stéphane Debac), an accused child rapist with a meek demeanor. For a few Russian-speaking thugs and a couple of corrupt prison guards, Jean-Louis does not deserve to live long enough to see his trial. So when the guards let the thugs into Franck and Jean-Louis’ cell to take care of Jean-Louis, Franck intervenes on Jean-Louis’ behalf. This makes some very bad people mad.

Illustrating no good deed goes unpunished, for his intervention Franck has time added onto his sentence, becomes a target of the Russian thugs and, unfortunately and unknowingly, puts his wife and daughter in serious harm’s way. So when he gets a chance to escape from prison, Franck gets out and begins to hunt the hunter. (I would have loved see how the guards explained their way out of Franck’s escape. “He knew the cameras were off so he beat up the four of us and ran out.”)

Assigned to track Franck down and bring him to justice is the incredulously pristine-looking Claire Linné (Alice Taglioni). A topnotch detective with an outstanding reputation for getting things done where others cannot, Claire nonetheless seems to be no match for the resourceful criminal with the lungs of a triathlete. As the police’s prey Franck always remains one step ahead yet several steps behind his prey. Of course, all these near misses with the law begin to draw suspicion in Claire. Franck’s behavior just does not add up.

As cynical as you want it to be, co-directors Eric Valette and Eric Hensman’s The Prey (La Proie) is an often violent, strong character-driven, somewhat thrilling story where nobody is to be trusted nor aided without suffering the consequences. The consequences are usually death.

This necessity for mistrust and self-preservation may very well hold true in many circles, but the preposterous ending of the film is not to be trusted in terms of believability.

Will there be a sequel where the bad prison guards and Russian thugs get out?

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