Director : Franck Gastambide
Writers : Franck GastambideCharles Van Tieghem
Stars : Franck GastambideRamzy BediaAnouar Toubali

It’s Ye Olde Framing Device, which allows a movie to start with an exciting bit then flash back and work back up to that exciting bit, and that way it doesn’t have to start with a less-exciting bit, e.g., an introduction to the characters: Stan (Gastambide) is our narrator, the de facto/quasi-adopted “brother” to Reda (Bedia), who runs a boxing/MMA gym in Paris.

They’re sort of average joes, except beefy, and they can throw and take a punch. Reda’s younger brother Brahim (Brahim Bouhlel) is more of a doofus, a wannabe influencer who worships Pablo Escobar so much, he looks and dresses like and impersonates him online. Nothing to see here, move along, move along – until Brahim is kidnapped by narcos who don’t think his Escobar bit is particularly funny, and this plot is officially kicked into gear.

Reda rallies all the toughsters in the gym to hop a flight to Medellin, Colombia and rescue “Pablito,” except they all stand him up, save for Stan and goofball little person Chafix (Toubali). Doesn’t matter. Reda remains determined. The dipshit needs to be extracted from the clutches of Colombia’s most powerful drug cartel, and if the three of them have to do it, so be it.

They get to Medellin and their first stop is a scuzzy strip club, and they’re so dopey and clueless, Reda tries to question one of the strippers, Cynthia (Essined Aponte), mid-pole-dance. Although Brahim is surely having his most sensitive extremities tortured by thugs as we speak, Reda, Chafik and Stan are easily distracted by the local entertainment, namely, inexpensive and high-quality cocaine, and before you know it, they’re bug-eyed and stoopid.

And then they’re waking up in their hotel room with fuzzybrain. Stan even had a really vivid and hilarious dream that they were leaving the club when they spotted a prominent cartel guy and decided to kidnap him and use him as trade bait to get Brahim back. How ridiculous! Good thing they didn’t actually do that. Right? They didn’t do that? Well. Um. Haha.

This is when we meet Don Nacho (Ariel Sierra), the bound and gagged son of El Diablo (Raymond Cruz), who, as you can tell by that moniker, is not a humble merchant or accountant, but rather, the head of Medellin’s most dangerous cartel. At this point, it’s really only a matter of time until they’re bargaining with a Man You Don’t Wanna F With by tossing Don Nacho in the ocean and chumming the water and threatening to not pull him back in the boat before the sharks arrive. Action-packed shenanigans ensue, theoretically!

Medellin isn’t uneventful, but neither is it particularly enthralling, thrilling or funny. You’ll smirk at some of Gastambide’s stylistic flourishes, the Tyson cameo and how the central trio manages to cobble together a misfit crew, including the stripper and a cute widdle puppy-wuppy, to take on a cartel and all of its guns and goons and snarling bosses.

You won’t be shocked to learn that our heroes find it within themselves to become action heroes, despite their reluctance; isn’t that always the way? The film unspools with the gusto it needs to overcome its choppy plotting – the screenplay essentially strings together a handful of action sequences – but strong feelings in either direction are hard to come by.

The film sells itself as a wacky adventure studded with shootouts and chases, but is ultimately too timid or modest of budget – or both – to fulfill that promise. It’s about 60 percent there: The script lacks the rhythm to be truly witty (an open, verbal acknowledgment about how the bad guys are terrible shots is about as clever as it gets), the action is reasonably well-executed but unremarkable, and the uneven pacing asserts that the film could be trimmed from 104 minutes to a lean, sharp 90.

It feels like many other films that came before it, and it’s slick but not quite fully competent, as if Brett Ratner had directed a Fast and Furious movie with a fraction of the money. I think that’s more criticism than praise, so maybe you should pass on this one.


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By acinetv