John Frankenheimer’s French Connection II [from a screen story by Robert and Laurie Dillon] is both complementary to, yet distinctly different from, William Friedkin’s The French Connection.
Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle goes to Marseilles in search of heroin czar Fernando Rey (also encoring from the first pic). The assignment in reality is a setup (thereby implying that high-level law enforcement corruption still exists), and Hackman is duly kidnapped, drugged and left for dead by Rey.
Hackman’s addiction and withdrawal sequences are terrifyingly real and make uncompromisingly clear the personal and social horror of drug abuse.
This plot turn is both intelligent and clever. Bernard Fresson is excellent as the French narc who must cope not only with his country’s dope problem, but also Hackman’s unruly presence.
Hackman’s performance is another career highlight, ranging from cocky narc, Ugly American, helpless addict, humbled ego and relentless avenger.