Saturday, January 17, 2009

L'Empire des Loups-Empire of the Wolves

R2 France

Anna (Arly Jover, Blade) is losing her memory. It started the day she failed to recognize her husband, Laurent (Philippe Bas). "I'm going crazy," she whispers to herself. Then at a dinner party, faces suddenly morph into death masks. Elsewhere in Paris, Captain Nerteaux (Jocelyn Quivrin, Syriana) is trying to catch a serial killer. The three female victims, all Turkish illegals, were tortured and mutilated. Out of desperation, Nerteaux turns to "Shifty" Schiffer (a blond Jean Reno) for help. A brutal cop with ties to the Turkish underworld, Schiffer is easily persuaded. (Too easily, perhaps.) Meanwhile, Anna begins seeing Dr. Mathilde (Laura Morante, The Son's Room). Despite the freaky Francis Bacon painting in her waiting room, which Anna finds terrifying, Mathilde turns out to be a sympathetic psychiatrist who helps unravel the truth about her condition--her face was altered and her memory erased. At the same time, Schiffer helps Nerteaux to solve his mystery. The link between the two is a right-wing organization called the Grey Wolves, which will lead all of them to Turkey for the explosive climax. Empire of the Wolves exerts the same grim fascination as The Crimson Rivers, a previous Jean-Christophe Grangé adaptation featuring Reno. While it marks a minor entry in the versatile actor's career, the gripping (if over-long) thriller ultimately belongs to Jover, whose Anna is as divided against herself as Anne Parillaud's La Femme Nikita.

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