Three Men To Kill

[a.k.a. Trois hommes abattre]
Dir: Jacques Deray
Star: Alain Delon, Dalila di Lazzaro, Pierre Dux, Michel Auclair

My first experience of an Alain Delon film proved pretty satisfactory. Here, he plays Gerfaut, a professional poker player who stops at what looks like a car accident. However, it turns out the victim was actually shot, and as a result, Gerfaut is now targeted for disposal by Emmerich (Dux), the paranoid mind behind the killing. The hero, as usual in this kind of movie, is left to try and work out who he can trust, and must find out who is behind the attacks on him, before they succeed. The results here are quite effective, not least because they're plausible, not relying on anything more than coincidence and a paranoid mindset: everything else that results is almost inevitable. Delon also has a fine presence, reminiscent of a French Robert Redford, that makes his ability to defeat professional killers credible.

On the action front, there's a fine car-chase through the streets of Paris, that looks as if they didn't bother to close off the roads; this guerilla-style approach, even if faked, adds a great sense of danger to proceedings. There are also a couple of shocking moments of violence, including a head-shot that would appear to have strayed in from Dawn of the Dead. I'm not entirely convinced by the ending, which has a chance to be bleak and dark, but pulls back from the abyss, and Gerfaut's girlfriend (di Lazzaro) seems an almost entirely pointless character. I kept expecting her to be kidnapped and used to pressure the hero into compliance, or killed to prove a point - is it a spoiler to reveal neither of these ever happen? Still, a solid piece of work - even the dubbing is well-done, and doesn't prove the usual distraction.

November 2006

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