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 Crime Spree
 Critic's Rating
   [C]
 Date Posted
   17th November, 2003
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Cast: Gerard Depardieu, Harvey Keitel, Johnny Hallyday
Director: Brad Mirman

Given its obvious faults - and there are many - "Crime Spree" is disposable entertainment at best. It has its moments but ultimately this is an action-comedy which by its own design earns the unenviable distinction of being preposterously trying on the astute, time-conscious moviegoer.

To begin with, the story is a farce. We have the bumbling (yet somehow dangerous) French conmen sent on assignment to the US to pull off a substantially rewarding heist. As expected, things go terribly awry when they mistakenly rob a ruthless mafia boss (a usually hilarious Harvey Keitel). In keeping with the genre's tradition, and thanks to their unplanned buffoonery, our French friends - being the proverbial fish out of water - get into the thick of things when both the mafia and the FBI jump on their trail. Then there is the additional dilemma of them not reproaching Chicago's trigger-happy street gangs if they want to make it back to Paris alive!

Heavily influenced by Quentin Tarantino's work, the plot is merely an excuse to generate comic situations and provide opportunities to writer/director Brad Mirman to shoot some interesting action sequences. Sadly, Mirman rarely cares for his characters and chooses exposition where only information is required. He composes, for example, Gérard Depardieu's Daniel out of an un-escapable need to provide a father-figure to the bewildered troupe of burglars. It's indeed disheartening to see Depardieu, an impressive actor, silently submit to a grossly underwritten role. An exception is perhaps Harvey Keitel's Zammeti, a brash crime boss who conspires with his henchmen about taking over the business from his ailing chieftain. Also worth mentioning is Renaud as the tight-lipped Zero, a character who always refers to himself in third person to much humorous effect. Too bad the little comfort these endearing actors bring is drowned in the convoluted direction of the story.

It would be unfair to neglect mentioning the visual flourishes used. You get your penetrating overhead shots; quick flash-cut editing; split-screens et al. It would be interesting to argue if Mirman - here in his directorial debut – was purposely by orchestrating the drama with the aid of such obvious cinematic techniques. Not necessarily unreasonable would be to assume that these optic excesses were quite simply the miscalculated brashness of an amateur eager to make a strong first impression.  

In conclusion, the film lacks originality. Made with good intentions, it is only helped by an indelible cast and an eager-to-please temperament. And considering the meaningless story, its makers clearly refuse to take "Crime Spree" seriously. When all is said and done, neither do the audience. - Adnan Khan

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