Retired assassins in the movies tend to like to live way out in the wilderness, in rustic yet technologically well-appointed cabins. Very cliché by now. I could run a list of examples, but I’m bored by the prospect of it.
And so here’s that exceptionally Gallic-nosed 70-year-old Frenchman Jean Reno, reprising his wheelhouse role of playing an assassin. This time he’s an ex-assassin named Henry, who lives in some generic Pacific Northwest mountain range, in a rustic cabin on stilts, where he can ice-fish off his deck.
The hit-man way of life is still how he rolls; you can tell because his sole reading material is Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” Had it been Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art,” this English-language thriller “Cold Blood,” by French director Frédéric Petitjean, might have been interesting.
Melody (Sarah Lind) is a young woman who is setting off on a snowmobile version of a walkabout. She’s fixing to cross wintry mountain ranges all the way to the ocean, all by her lonesome.
Except that backwoods solo-snowmobiling is X-Games-level dangerous, and she eventually caroms off a few trees, retaining many massive splinters. She crawls away from the scene of the crash, leaving a blood trail a mile wide for wolves to stroll leisurely after her.
The other thing in Reno’s wheelhouse is playing a father figure to young, comely girls. The character could easily have at them in all kinds of bad ways, but he would appear not to even need to exercise restraint, as deep in the core of his assassin being is a highly upright, nurturing individual. It’s a reassuring feeling. Which is why I believe Reno gets to do this role a lot.
Naturally, Henry pulls out Melody’s mega-splinters, and gauze, bandages, and water boiling on the woodstove abound. She convalesces nicely. Meanwhile, we go back in time to when Henry was a stone-cold pro, whacking billionaires with dissolving chemical bullets in saunas.
One particular billionaire, it turns out, only has one heir to his fortune. Who might that be? The snowmobile walkabout might be a clue; “trustafarians” like to do things like treks to find out who they are sans daddy’s bank account. Revenge might also be a key issue in this movie.
Keystone, er, Yellowstone Kops
Some cops are naturally on the case of the slain billionaire, but who the heck is this motley crew? British actor Joe Anderson plays a New York cop (wait, why is he in the Pacific N.W.?) and does a serviceable yet over-the-top New Yawk accent sounding exactly like (and just as annoying as) the character of Mike Damone in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
He and his older boss (whose accent is completely bizarre) are here to connect the dots for the audience, except that they take all film long to get to the point, and you already got to the point after 10 minutes.
They’re joined by an African-maybe-American with an equally untraceable, odd accent. He’s probably African-French, judging by his name and the general French-ness of this endeavor. In addition to all the bad accents, there are a bunch of poorly dubbed speaking roles.
Luc Besson usually directs Jean Reno (“La Femme Nikita,” “Léon: The Professional”) and so Besson’s photographer, Thierry Arbogast, provides some beauteous photography of snowcapped wilderness, with some nice wolves sniffing around.
But your main takeaway will be shots of the Pacific Northwest (actually shot in the Ukraine), and a story about a lonely girl who searched in vain for the warm heart of a cold billionaire father, only to find that warm heart at the core of a cold-blooded assassin.
Director: Frédéric Petitjean
Starring: Jean Reno, Sarah Lind, Joe Anderson, David Gyasi, Ihor Ciszkewycz, François Guétary
Rated: Not rated
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Release Date: July 5
Rated 2.5 stars out of 5