Review: ‘The Target’

A sweet French sailor seeking his Russian girlfriend sets off a lethal round of mistaken-identity antics in "The Target," an ambitious feature debut by writer-director Pierre Courrege. Uneven hostage comedy features an unusual amount of firepower for a French pic, but "Die Hard" it ain't. Teenage boys might enjoy pic's flimsy genre melding, but project is too scattered, derivative and borderline annoying to travel far theatrically. TV and video should make a better fit. Initial premise holds promise. Chris (Sagamore Stevenin) spends three days of bliss with pretty tourist Zelda only to be hijacked for a month's submarine duty without a chance to trade full names and addresses with his beloved. Sprung from the briny deep and knowing that Zelda's departure to Moscow is nigh, Chris infiltrates a snazzy apartment building to plead with self-involved TV host Jean-Pierre Bellac (Daniel Russo) to let him issue an APB live, on-air.

Unfortunately, since Chris’ earlier visit to broadcast headquarters came just before a massive explosion, the TV station’s security cameras have mistakenly identified the mild-mannered Romeo as an international terrorist. Meanwhile, screw-loose Zen thug Stan (Hippolyte Girardot) arrives with a killer commando to snuff a Mafia-busting judge who also resides in Bellac’s apartment complex.

The SWAT-team cop in charge of the two-pronged debacle is under pressure from his mistress (Anemone) to leave his wife, while Chris and Bellac are saddled with a wacky female neighbor and her kiddie charge. Although basic setup is solid, drawn-out execution becomes increasingly contrived.

Explosions, helicopter shots and scenic takes on Paris are slickly rendered. Fresh-faced Stevenin is appealing, and Russo is fine as the ratings hound, but pic devolves into a shooting-and-killing spree that meshes badly with the bracketing humor — or intended humor.

Crafty sound design by multiple-Oscar-winning transplanted Yank Richard Shorr makes the proceedings feel more urgent and spectacular than they are, but script and direction suffer from insurmountable problems of tone.

The Target

French - Swiss - Spanish

Production

A UFD release (in France) of an Odeon Prods., UGC Images, Film Resources, France 3 Cinema (France)/Maestranza Films (Spain)/T&C Film (Switzerland) production, with participation of Canal Plus and Sofinergie 4. Produced by Laurent Thiry. Directed by Pierre Courrege. Screenplay, Bernard Rosselli, Courrege.

Crew

Camera (color), Yves Dahan, Thierry Schwartz; editor, Nicole Saunier; music, Christian Gaubert; production design, Nicolas Prier; costume design, Madeleine Fontaine; sound (DTS Digital), Roger Di Ponio, Dominique Hennequin; sound design, Richard Shorr; associate producers, Yves Marmion, Juliette Salles, Anne Mathieu; assistant director, Jean-Francois Villemer; casting, Max Morel, Nora Habib. Reviewed at UGC screening room, Neuilly, France, Feb. 18, 1997. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Jean-Pierre Bellac ..... Daniel Russo Chris ..... Sagamore Stevenin Clara ..... Anemone Stan ..... Hippolyte Girardot
With: Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Bernard Rosselli, Vanessa Guedj, Marie-Josephine Crenn, Macha Polikarpova.
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