Very bad men do very bad things on a daily and/or nightly basis in "Crime Insiders," an extremely violent gangster pic awash in brutal guys, guns, dope, prostitutes, night clubs and foul language. Portrait of career criminals going about their menacing business is visceral without being interesting.

Very bad men do very bad things on a daily and/or nightly basis in “Crime Insiders,” an extremely violent gangster pic awash in brutal guys, guns, dope, prostitutes, night clubs and foul language. Portrait of career criminals going about their menacing business is visceral without being interesting. Pic’s major distinction is displaying far more murders than most Gallic fare (outside the horror genre). Venture got the rare 16-and-over rating in Gaul, while “Apocalypto” was approved for 12 and up. While almost certainly marketable offshore, soulless shoot-’em-up is a step backward for Frederic Schoendoerffer (“Secret Agents”).

Although pic’s high body-count is achieved mostly with large, noisy weapons on Paris streets, law enforcement types figure in only one scene. Nearly an hour in, when cops bust crime lord and racketeer Claude Corti (Philippe Caubere) — whom we’ve seen apply a power drill to a man’s knees and a knife to his eyeballs, in addition to ramming a large metal rod up an underling’s rectum — it’s for possession of counterfeit vehicle registration forms.

Claude goes to prison and his associates have to decide whether to run things faithfully in his stead or try to take his place. Restless widescreen camera and lots of brooding closeups give a you-are-there feeling to the sordid proceedings.

Caubere, a legit dynamo last seen on screen in hits “My Father’s Glory” and “My Mother’s Castle” some 15 years ago, chews the scenery with textbook malice, injecting a micron of humor with his loving mistress, Beatrice (Beatrice Dalle).

A seemingly endless supply of nubile, compliant young women runs the gamut from pole dancers to prostitutes and from sluts to whores, with rapes and beatings so standard as to be banal. Matter-of-fact male and female full-frontal nudity is capped by a few very rough sex acts.

Impeccably groomed, semi-scowling Benoit Magimel is inscrutable as Franck, an ultra-professional contract killer Claude holds in high regard. Grizzled Olivier Marchal (the ex-cop who helmed “36″) is OK as Franck’s older, reliable partner-in-crime. A gallery of tough lugs and a few handsome young crooks are on the endangered species list from frame one.

Protags feel at home in top-tier restaurants and luxurious hotels, and live in elegant digs with classy views. But to its credit, pic makes shaking people down and/or killing them thoroughly unglamorous.

At one point, Franck is shown watching a scene from the helmer’s father Pierre’s classic, “317th Platoon,” on TV. Comment seems to be that administering expedient brutality — for self or for country — is just part of what some men are obliged to do.

Crime Insiders

France

Production

A Mars Distribution release of an Eric Neve presentation of a Carcharodon, La Chauve Souris, StudioCanal production, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema. (International sales: TF1 Intl., Issy-les-Moulineaux, France.) Produced by Eric Neve, Frederic Schoendoerffer. Directed by Frederic Schoendoerffer. Screenplay, Schoendoerffer, Yann Brion.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Jean-Pierre Sauvaire; editor, Irene Blecua; music, Bruno Coulais; production designer, Jean-Marc Kerdelhue; costume designer, Nathalie Raoul; sound (Dolby), Jean-Pierre Laforce; assistant director, Ivan Fegyveres. Reviewed at UGC Danton, Paris, Jan. 18, 2007. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Benoit Magimel, Philippe Caubere, Beatrice Dalle, Olivier Marchal, Mehdi Nebbou, Tomer Sisley, Ludovic Schoendoerffer, Anne Marivin, Alain Figlarz, Andre Peron, Cyril Lecomte, Ichem Saibi, Christophe Maratier.

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