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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 16, 2009
Film review
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Largo Winch
September 16, 2009 By Witold Żygulski   
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The marketing campaign for Jerome Salle's Largo Winch touted the new movie as an answer to James Bond and Jason Bourne. The producers may be satisfied with their work, but the film is a typical C-list action movie with an overkill of implausible details, too much even for an adaptation of a comic book series. Although the main character is almost completely bereft of onscreen charisma, he is sure of himself, a self-confidence that remains, alas, undented throughout the movie's 108 minutes.

The plot is simple. Nerio Winch, a multimillionaire hailing from the former Yugoslavia, is murdered in Hong Kong. Winch, who controlled a huge financial group, had a secret: he had an adopted son by the name of Largo, who he found in a Bosnian orphanage. Now a rebellious 27-year-old, Largo wanders the world aimlessly. Can he get his hands on his lucrative inheritance, save the group from a hostile acquisition and unravel the mystery of his father's death? Figuring out who he can count on is difficult, because the characters switch sides every couple of minutes and until almost the end it is hard to separate out the good guys from the bad guys.

Due to its plot, featuring a young man struggling to reclaim a family company, Largo Winch has been likened to Batman Begins, but that is stretching things too far. Christian Bale, playing a comic book character in the Batman film, managed to create a likable character, whereas the same cannot be said of Salle's movie. Tomer Sisley, a well-known 35-year-old comedian who for unclear reasons was cast as Largo in his action movie debut, struggles in the role and pales in comparison with the well-cast actors in supporting roles who at some points eclipse him completely. This is particularly true of Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, Gosford Park) as Ann Ferguson, the vice-president of the group and the only associate to whom Winch senior confided that he has a son. Other strong performances come from Karl Roden (15 minutes, Dead Fish), who plays the demonic Mikhail Korsky, a Russian businessman with the looks of a bona fide villain, and Steven Waddington (The Last of the Mohicans, 1492: Conquest of Paradise) as Stephan Marcus, the security chief of the corporation who, like everybody else, is playing a double game. Finally, Serbian actor Miki Manojlovic (Irina Palm, Underground) puts in a convincing flesh-and-blood performance as Nerio, contrasting sharply with Sisley's silly grins and cardboardly ominous looks.

Largo Winch is, it must be admitted, fast-paced, while the deliberately slowed down flashbacks manage to remain unboring. The stuntmen are kept busy. As befits an indestructible, comic-book hero, Largo makes it through the most difficult scrapes in one piece, his hair neatly combed and white shirt neatly pressed. The rules of the genre remain intact.

The film has at least one more plus: the vistas of Hong Kong and the magnificent coastal landscapes of the former Yugoslavia, or rather Malta, where the scenes were shot.
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