×

Film Review: ‘Cold Blood’

Not even fond memories of ‘Léon: The Professional’ can put a charge in Jean Reno’s latest, instantly forgettable hitman thriller.

Director:
Frédéric Petitjean
With:
Jean Reno, Sara Lind, Joe Anderson, David Gyasi, Ihor Ciszkewycz, François Guétary. (French, English dialogue)
Release Date:
Jul 5, 2019

Running time: 91 MIN.

Official Site: http://www.paramountpictures.fr/film/cold-blood-legacy-la-memoire-du-sang/

As the minutes slowly tick by in the lifeless thriller “Cold Blood,” it’s easy to mourn for what might have been. Jean Reno stars as Henry, a veteran hitman seeking isolation in a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest, which could have made for a contemplative and melancholy reimagining of his signature role in Luc Besson’s “Léon: The Professional.” When Henry is forced to care for a mysterious, injured woman who interrupts his solitude, one envisions a close-quarters psychological cat-and-mouse game between two dangerous and deeply secretive people. It turns out we get neither of those, just a bland and forgettable B-movie that came and went quickly in France last May and looks to do the same upon its day-and-date release in the U.S.

Reno, who turns 71 this month, hasn’t burned through the credibility he amassed with the cool kids during his long-ago career peak working with Besson. He still represents added value, especially when livening up supporting roles. But with “Cold Blood,” he’s not only repeating himself, he’s doing it with a script (written by the film’s director Frédéric Petitjean) that’s stubbornly disinterested in putting any spin on the world-weary hitman scenario, leaving the actor with little to work with.

His character does know how to field dress a deer and perform minor surgery, though, both of which will come in handy after a young woman crashes her snowmobile near his cabin. With civilization 70 miles away, Henry is compelled to carry her inside, remove large splinters of wood from her leg and nurse her back to health. The convalescing stranger initially lies about her name, then fesses up that it’s Charlie (Sarah Lind). Henry dutifully washes Charlie’s clothes, rustles up her food and gets her walking again, niceties that continue despite both parties seeming to distrust the other.

Reno and Lind work fine together, but Petitjean never solves the problem of how to maintain viewer involvement when two characters stuck in one location can’t divulge any information about themselves. So more interesting, if only by default, is Henry’s earlier assassination of a wealthy industrialist and the resulting police investigation. On the case is Kappa (Joe Anderson, his New Yawk attitude a bit much), recently transferred from the Big Apple to Washington state for reasons never made entirely clear. He and his partner Davies (Ihor Ciszkewycz) eventually discover that the murdered man has an heir. Kappa’s conversation with the dead man’s amnesiac wife (Samantha Bond from “Downton Abbey,” an oasis in her one scene) reveals that the heir is a woman named Charlie.

Generic, character-deficient and lacking in suspense or thrills, “Cold Blood” never kicks into gear. The film, shot mostly in Ukraine, is also sloppy around the edges. Many of the Eastern European players are obviously dubbed while others affect unconvincing American accents, both of which are distracting. The French-born Petitjean’s English-language script is filled with stilted dialogue and empty profundities, unless one finds existential significance in Charlie wondering, “Is it necessary for a mountaineer to be so serious when he chops wood?” There’s even a typo in a text sent by crisply attired Euro-intellect Brigleur (François Guétary) to a henchman whose childhood friendship with Charlie is vaguely noted in one line of dialogue and then completely forgotten.

The only standout work here is by cinematographer Thierry Arbogast. Luc Besson’s longtime DP (“Léon” and “The Fifth Element”) emphasizes the beauty and isolation of Henry’s wintry cabin while his pulsating orange and purple-hued bursts of steam bring style to an assassination in a sauna.
Early in “Cold Blood,” to establish that he’s not your run of the mill hitman, Henry is seen reading Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” One of the key takeaways of that 5th-century BC military strategy manual is to “ponder and deliberate before you make a move.” Jean Reno, whose reputation will only suffer the slightest ding after this lackluster outing quickly fades from memory, should ponder and deliberate a little harder the next time he’s asked to play an aging hitman.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Cold Blood'

Reviewed online, Paris, June 27, 2019. Running time: 91 MIN. (Original title: “Cold Blood Legacy: La mémoire du sang”)

Production: (France-Ukraine) A Screen Media (in U.S.), Paramount Pictures (in France) release of an Eight35, Eastwest Prods., Seven52 production. Producers: Corinne Benichou, Florence Moos, Olias Barco, Oleg German.

Crew: Director, writer: Frédéric Petitjean. Camera (color, widescreen): Thierry Arbogast. Editor: Viktor Onysko. Music: Xavier Berthelot, in collaboration with Vladimir Bentsionov.

With: Jean Reno, Sara Lind, Joe Anderson, David Gyasi, Ihor Ciszkewycz, François Guétary. (French, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Rob Schneider'The Week Of' film premiere,

    Film News Roundup: Rob Schneider Wins SAG-AFTRA National Board Seat

    In today’s film news roundup, Rob Schneider wins a SAG-AFTRA board seat; “Badland,” “Sorry We Missed You” and “Extracurricular” find homes; and “The Shawshank Redemption” gets a re-release.  SAG-AFTRA More Reviews Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela' Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct' Rob Schneider has won a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate [...]

  • This photo shows actor David Oyelowo

    David Oyelowo Joins George Clooney in 'Good Morning, Midnight' Adaptation (EXCLUSIVE)

    David Oyelowo is in final negotiations to join George Clooney in Netflix’s untitled adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s 2016 novel “Good Morning, Midnight,” sources tell Variety. Felicity Jones and Kyle Chandler are also on board, with Clooney set to helm the pic — his first feature film directing gig since 2017’s “Suburbicon.” “The Revenant” screenwriter Mark [...]

  • Disney Delays 'Cruella,' 'Woman in the

    Disney Delays 'Cruella,' 'Woman in the Window'

    Disney is shaking up its release calendar, delaying its live action “Cruella” until Memorial Day 2021 and pushing Fox 2000 drama “The Woman in the Window” to 2020. “Cruella,” starring Emma Stone, is based on the classic “101 Dalmatians” villain Cruella de Vil. The revisit to Disney’s animated classic was originally set to hit theaters [...]

  • Spider-Man Could Leave the Marvel Cinematic

    Spider-Man Could Leave MCU if Disney, Sony Can't Reach Financing Deal

    Disney’s Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures have hit an impasse on new financing terms for upcoming Spider-Man movies, sources have told Variety. If a deal cannot be reached, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will not produce future Spider-Man films, effectively removing Tom Holland’s Spider-Man from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. More Reviews Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina [...]

  • Australia Makes Progress on Gender Equality

    Australia Makes Progress on Gender Equality in Film and TV

    Screen Australia, Australia’s federal film and TV funding body, has made sufficient progress in furthering gender equality that it has set more ambitious targets. The organization has exceeded its long-term Gender Matters key performance indicator, with 56% of projects receiving production funding having at least half of the key creative roles occupied by women, based [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content