Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.
Netflix puts out such a constant stream of movies and shows that it’s easy for anything that isn’t one of their big blockbusters or Oscar plays to get lost in the shuffle, especially on the international cinema side.
But when our fearless leader Ed Travis declares something the best action film of the year, we stop and we take notice.
Lost Bullet, from first time feature director Guillaume Pierret, stars Alban Lenoir as Lino, a lousy criminal and genius mechanic who bungles the film’s opening heist by making a car so powerful that it drives through the building he’s trying to rob. It’s not long into his prison sentence that Lino is approached by detective Charas (Ramzy Bedia), who is currently leading a squad to intercept ‘go fast’ (criminals who use high-octane driving skills to transport drugs/guns/etc.).
Lino agrees to soup up the squad’s cars in exchange for a more lenient sentence and his eventual freedom. And after a little while, he even finds the situation to his liking: Charas takes a genuine shine to the decent heart of the young criminal, and Lino starts up a relationship with the beautiful, badass Julia (Stéfi Celma). Slowly but surely there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
A series of wrong turns places all of this in jeopardy, and over the course of a very long, very bad day, Lino finds himself transformed into the most wanted man in the country. Through a series of epic brawls and stunning car chases, he’ll have to claw his (somewhat) good name back from the deadly forces hot on his heels.
Ordinarily I’d do some kind of play-on-words to lead us into the article proper, but some of our contributors already ran the pun-game into the end-zone. Truly off-the-charts Dad Energy this week, folks. Let’s get to it.
Next Week’s Pick:
With a fun ensemble cast, a story inspired by Seven Samurai as adapted by John Sayles, and an aesthetic that rips off Star Wars (thanks in part to the effects work of a young James Cameron), Roger Corman’s production Battle Beyond the Stars is a corny but brilliant science fiction favorite that we suspect many of you somehow haven’t seen yet. You don’t want to miss this one! Available streaming on Prime and Tubi.
Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)cinapse.co anytime before midnight on Thursday!
Brendan Aggro (The Norman Nerd):
I guess I’m not the only one who missed heroic bloodshed movies.
There’s a sequence in Lost Bullet where Lino, the mechanically-gifted main character, is working overnight inside a barn, and it’s not only a clever callback to said character’s established penchant for pulling all-nighters on a project, but it’s basically a metaphor for the movie itself. This is a pared-down, all killer/no filler “guy out to clear his name” movie that decides to focus on a handful of Specific Action Things (primarily Car Chase with a side of Beatdown), but plants a flag saying “This is our lane, and we are gonna freakin’ OWN it”. It knows what it can do, and then goes the extra mile to add elements and gags you might not have even known you’d desperately wanted to see.
Come for the righteous car chases where police cars get gloriously thrashed, stay for the genuine emotional root in a small but meticulously-built (sorry, had to) characters who are given just the right amount of time and space to inhabit surprisingly genuine roles. Director Guillaume Pierret has an impressive knack for visual storytelling for a first feature film, and captures his actors filling in those spaces where the words they don’t say should be. This movie is a machine (okay, I’m done now — promise) that literally bursts through the door in the opening scene and wastes none of your time being the best possible version of exactly what’s on the box.
This will doubtless be a common refrain from fans of this film, but if the yearlong delay of the next Fast and Furious film has you down and you need a quick fix (okay, NOW I’m done for real), Lost Bullet has your back. (@BLCAgnew)
Gearhead Travis (@Ed Travis)
Look. I love everything about Lost Bullet and it might just hold my top slot for the best action film of 2020. So my little contribution here isn’t going to be anything but a straight up love fest. At 20,000 feet, French action cinema doesn’t get the respect it deserves. There are dozens of badass French filmmakers, stars, and gems of movies sprinkled throughout my lifetime that deserve more international acclaim. Lost Bullet has shot (ahem) right up into the top tier of that canon (ahem).
Then we’ve got director Guillaume Pierre, who knocks this movie out of the park and becomes a name I need to follow from this single movie and, oh… this is his first feature film! Astonishing. While the same isn’t true of star Alban Lenoir who plays Lino (IMDb lists 73 acting credits and 8 stunt credits, among others), this was my own personal discovery of him and he’ll also be a name I pay attention to from now on.
Lino is a guy who’s extremely talented and resourceful, especially with cars, but he just can’t get a break. While Lost Bullet is certainly super charged and action packed, it succeeds precisely because of the masterful execution of the action combined with the flawless escalation of tension and stakes. Lino is on the run and trying to clear his name for the majority of this film, and even though you know he’s the hero…you really genuinely feel like he’s GOING to get caught constantly. Only pure, thrilling, ingenuity always seems to come through at the last second to spring Lino out of his present frying pan and into his next fire.
But that execution really does matter. And in a world where we’ve seen cars flying between skyscrapers on our big screens, Lost Bullet brings viewers to their feet cheering at the creative fight sequences and inspired car-chase shenanigans that Lino is able to improvise. Lost Bullet is slick, breezy, and virtually a flawless execution of a type of man on the run film we’ve seen dozens of times, but never quite remixed into a gearhead/French/Mad Max/Fast & Furious vibe like this. (@Ed_Travis)
Blendin’ Petrolly (Brendan Foley):
Lost Bullet is an absolute out-of-nowhere blast. A rollicking, 90 minute crime film that carefully but steadily lays down a track of set-ups, then proceeds to blow up the tracks, then 360-corkscrew spin over the fireball, then nail and landing and keep right on driving.
Pierret’s shoots action with an aim for clarity and impact. This is (happily) a universe where every character is capable of holding their own in a multi-person brawl, and where cars always crash in just such a way that they spin and explode in the air. It all looks completely practical, and the human scale of the story and stunts make everything land with that much punch. You feel the impact as bodies slam into desks and floors, and you believe the stunned-drunk stagger of characters as they wobble clear of the latest spectacular wreck.
But credit also to Pierret, and leading man Lenoir, for keeping a firm handle of the film’s emotional throughline. It would be easy for that element to get lost in the shuffle, or pared down into nothingness in Lost Bullet’s pursuit of ruthless efficiency. Yet even within that efficeincy, Pierret allows time for his hero to hurt and grieve, and Lenoir proves to be a wildly empathetic screen presence when he isn’t clobbering skulls or conducting demolition derbies on major highways. Lost Bullet will make you cheer and wince, but it’s also interested in making you feel something, something sincere and earned, and that may be this thriller’s most striking twist. (@TheTrueBrendanF)
Guzz’line Crasher (Austin Vashaw):
When Ed Travis says “here’s an action movie to take note of”, well, we take note. If you have a Transporter or Taxi-shaped hole in your heart these last few years, Lost Bullet may be exactly what you need to fill that void of a gruff, buzz-headed antihero playing both sides of the law while doing cool action shit with cars on the streets of France.
Running on a lean mixture of straightforward and well-paced storytelling, the film soon careens into its primary conflict in which the bad guys have infiltrated the police — and the traditional “bad guy”, now fighting for both justice and vengeance, is going to take them down. Sure, some of the story beats predictably go exactly as you expect them to, but the payoff, in the form of Lino returning the hastily modified car (itself the evidence to clear his name because of the bullet lodged inside it), is an incredible action sequence that absolutely delivers. (@VforVashaw)
Next week’s pick: