Thu 6 Feb 2014
What is bluntly visible in this French film is the American look. Actually it is not only the look – the whole approach taken by the film starting with its story and I dare say with its ideology, going through the rapid pace and crisp editing style and ending with the style of acting is borrowed from the American ‘war on terror’ movies. We even have some kind of a French equivalent of the CIA headquarters in this film. The most amazing things is however that the combination works. Philippe Haim is a talented director and his ‘Secret Defense’ is a good American thriller even if it is acted in French.
Recruiting a young and sexy woman who finds herself in some kind of distress and turning her into a spy is a theme that we have already met in the classical Nikita, and original French film turned into an American movie and than successful TV series. The world of Secret Defense is however today’s France and Middle East, and a parallel thread develops the background of an abused criminal who falls of dark side of the war on terror. The paths of the two characters are to meet inexorably, and we know it from almost from the beginning. The smart and unfortunately true idea of the script is that both the good girl and the bad guy are victims, paws, foot soldiers in war machines that confront each other and eventually crush everybody who falls under their wheels.
The story has logic and the development of the main character played by Vahina Giocante is credible and does not lack an unexpected dose of sensitivity. There is one moment only when the accumulation of coincidences seemed to me to be hard to believe, but otherwise the story line and the excellent acting, the exact rendering of the various environments and the pace of action built upon interleaved threads contribute all to the good quality of a film that has an American look, and this time I am writing this appreciation on its positive meaning.