Also know as MR 73, …Mission is a crime drama written and directed by one of France’s leading practitioners of the genre, Olivier Marchell, best known over here perhaps for 36th Precinct and Tell No One. It revolves around a police officer Louis Schneider who has become self-destructive ever since a traffic accident put his wife on life support and killed his child. Schneider drinks so much that in the opening scene he puts a gun to a bus driver’s head and makes him turn around because Schneider forgot to pull the cord indicating he wanted to be let off. Things go downhill for him from there. He’s taken off a serial killer case and the woman who took his wife’s place in bed for awhile has become the lover of Schneider’s chief rival (who also replaces Schneider on the serial killer investigation). Meanwhile, a psychopathic killer is being released from prison after twenty years because he has found God and is getting so old, no one thinks he’s a threat anymore, except for the little girl, now a fragile adult, who saw him viciously murder her mother. To make the plot even tidier, this was one of Schneider’s earlier cases. It all takes place is large open spaces, both interior and exterior; whoever is responsible for the locations seems to have a fetish for square feet (the police department looks like it was built in a loft). Schneider is played by Daniel Auteuil, who seems to have the perfect face to play either comedy or drama (in comedy, his visage looks doughy and cute and there’s a twinkle in his eyes; in drama it looks like it’s survived a bit too long passed its expiration date). Like Marchell’s other films, this one keeps moving. There’s ne’er a dull moment to be had and Marcehll seems to revel in how corrupt he can paint French law enforcement and politics. Schneider’s investigation into the serial killer case (like all good self-destructive cops, tiny things like alcoholism and banishment to the complaints department hardly stops him from continuing looking into things) is very clever. The direction does hit you over the head at times (it’s very much of the in your face variety) and the talk about God is a bit too on the nose not to seem forced; it feels a bit tacked on in a seeming effort to give a story meaning that probably could have stood on its own two feet just fine. But the whole thing is very entertaining in its own go for the jugular way.

So tell me what you think.

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