Dead in France: Film Review

This dark comedy about a retiring hit man wears its Guy Ritchie/Quentin Tarantino influences far too openly.

A hitman faces complications in his attempt to quit the business in this gore-drenched black comedy.

It seems a long, long time ago when movies about deadly hit men were actually, you know, serious. The latest in a long line of Guy Ritchie/Quentin Tarantino knock-offs is Dead in France, Kris McManus’ gore-drenched dark comedy about a killer who wants to retire after fulfilling his 100th contract.  

Set in the ever-photographic Cannes, the film concerns veteran killer Charles (co-screenwriter Brian Levine) who would like to settle down with a yacht and a woman, despite the fact that his intense germ phobia has left him a virgin at age 43.

Numerous complicating factors threaten his plans. His sexy new housekeeper Lisa (Celia Muir) is illegally subletting his house in his absence, abetted by her Mohawk-sporting, boorish boyfriend Denny (Darren Bransford). Denny’s cohorts, ex-con Simon (Lee Cheney) and his brother Ray (James Privett), have stolen Charles’ nest egg of two million pounds from the trunk of his car. And rival assassin Clancy (Kate Lousteau), far from celebrating the retirement of her main competition, is so incensed by his decision that she’s marked him for death.

It all results in predictably wacky, frequently gory mayhem, with the extreme violence on display, much of it CGI-enhanced, made somewhat egregious thanks to the crisp black-and-white cinematography.  

Despite the familiarity of its parodic style and themes, the film nonetheless proves reasonably entertaining thanks to the droll performance by Levine and the cheekily amusing dialogue. Director McManus also demonstrates an undeniable knack for stylish visual flourishes, especially in the frequently kinetic, over-the-top violence and an amusing montage in which the sexy housekeeper enjoys an extended dalliance with her boyfriend on nearly surface of her employer’s house. The latter scene provides the opportunity for the comely Muir to amply display her physical charms, which will certainly go over well with the film’s target’s audience.

Production: Delacheroy Films (Breaking Glass Pictures)
Cast: Brian Levine, Celia Muir, Darren Bransford, Kate Loustreau, Lee Cheney
Director/director of photography/editor: Kris McManus
Screenwriters: Brian Levine, Kris McManus
Producer: Brian Levine
Composer: Adam Langston
Not rated, 88 min.