Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Film Review: The Family (2013)

Director: Luc Besson
Screenplay: Luc Besson and Michael Caleo
Stars: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Agron

Once one of the most influential directors to break into Hollywood from Europe, film maker Luc Besson is now more recognisable as a producer of low to mid budget B movie action trash like Taken and The Transporter, but he has made some fantastic films as a director. The Family is not one of them; in fact, it’s the worst film of his I’ve seen by quite some margin.

Tired, lifeless, predictable, and utterly without purpose, Besson’s film is a cluster of clich├ęs with maybe 45 minutes worth of story stretched over 100 minutes. Telling the story of the Blakes, a family of gangsters comprising of father, mother, and teenage son and daughter, the film asks us to believe that each one is a wise guy/girl who always gets their way. What follows is a series of scenes showing each of the unlikable characters doing things we’ve seen before in the films of Martin Scorsese (here as executive producer, for shame) except in a French village. The school lunch time is treated like the prison yard by the son, the hot blonde daughter is a psycho, the mother likes to blow up supermarkets when they upset her... you get the idea.

Worst of all is Robert De Niro as the father, who is so unfunny it’s like watching him doing an impression of someone doing an impression of himself from Goodfellas or Casino. Last year De Niro gave his fans a glimmer of hope when he turned in an excellent performance in Silver Linings Playbook but in The Family he’s near his Meet The Fockers low.

Quite why Luc Besson wrote and directed this film is a mystery. The plot is something which might have been relevant when Analyse This (which is far superior of course) or Mickey Blue Eyes came out, but today it just falls flat from the very start and never picks up. It has none of the interesting visuals we saw in The Fifth Element or The Messenger, or The Big Blue, nor does it have any of the character depth he gave to Leon, Angel-A, or Nikita. His direction here is like that of a director-for-hire, not the visual master we have seen before. It’s a career low and one can only hope he makes a return to form soon.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: The Family is one to avoid, sweep under the carpet, and forget it ever happened.

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