Can you go wrong with Jim Cameron’s up-to-eleven grunts-in-space extension to Ridley Scott’s own extraplanetary haunted house classic? Reckon not.
A solid cast of characters, a pretty believable future universe (with internal logic, dagnammit!), great in-camera effects, beautiful lighting, precise editing and a damn fine feel for pacing marks this out as JC’s finest. Almost too memorable for its own good.
Directed by Jacques Audiard, who also wrote that early 80s satire on post-colonial French international policy starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Le Professionnel. I didn’t realise that when I watched this, though – all I knew was that it was set in a French prison.
It blew me away, up there with A Sense Of Freedom and The Escapist as gaolhouse flicks that really work hard to go beyond the clichés, to really say something interesting about the nature of confinement, of life. (I think I saw it trailed somewhere as ‘the French Scarface meets The Godfather‘, which is about as ridiculous as these interminable ‘A-meets-B’ film précis can get.)
It’s definitely a film where the less you know about the plot or the characters going in, the better. Just let it unfold naturally, because it is beautifully built. Some excellent acting, especially Tahar Rahim as a young, new convict, Nils Arestrup as an older Corsican gang boss inmate, and Abdel Bencharif as Ryad and Hitchem Yacoubi as Reyeb.