Films by former cops are legion; those by ex-cons are few. Judging by "De force," from Gallic desperado-turned-director Frank Henry, this won't change anytime soon.

Films by former cops are legion; those by ex-cons are few. Judging by “De force,” from Gallic desperado-turned-director Frank Henry, this won’t change anytime soon. An impressive roster of thesps, led by Isabelle Adjani and Eric Cantona, sleepwalk through this subpar crimer about a tough-as-nails policewoman who needs to illegally break out a jailed heavy unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement on a major case. Late-October title tanked locally, but star-hungry Euro channels could still bite.

It’s all downhill after a twitchy, tense and music-free opening, in which a Corsican criminal mastermind (Simon Abkarian) stages an attack on an armored car. Officer Damico (Adjani) gets carte blanche to round up his gang and calls on jailbird acquaintance Makarov (Cantona), who (initially) refuses to help. Setup is neat, down to Damico’s worries about her juvenile-delinquent son (Pierre Stevenin, terrible), but as the plot grows increasingly absurd, the film proves incapable of sustaining any kind of urgency or tension. The ensemble, which includes distaff stars Anne Consigny and Linh-Dan Pham, seems more drowsy than world-weary, while the ’80s-sounding score further slows down the proceedings. Look is perfectly generic; title means “By Force.”

De force

France-Luxembourg

Production

A Studio 37, Rezo Films release of a Marilyn Prods. presentation of a Studio 37, Iris Films, Iris Prods., Chaocorp, Ufilm, Ufund production, in association with Canal Plus, Cine Plus, 13eme rue, with the participation of Backup Films. (International sales: Kinology, Paris.) Produced by Franck Chorot. Co-producers, Nicolas Steil, Jesus Gonzalez. Directed, written by Frank Henry.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Jean-Pierre Sauvaire; editor, France Duez; music, Gast Waltzing, Frank Henry, Claude Salmieri, Marco Papazian; production designer, Regine Constant; costume designer, Uli Simon. Reviewed at Cine Cite Les Halles, Paris, Oct. 27, 2011. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Isabelle Adjani, Eric Cantona, Simon Abkarian, Thierry Fremont, Anne Consigny, Linh-Dan Pham, Pierre Stevenin.

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