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© 2015 RICHARD CAZEAU MEDIA, LLC. - All rights reserved.

MADS MIKKELSEN IS A RIVETING, BIZARRE HITMAN IN FORD'S 8-MINUTE GANGSTER FLICK

October 26, 2016

 

Tracking the story of a couple turned state's witness against a weapons smuggler, it follows them into hiding as Mikkelsen's character stalks them, and their bright orange SUV, which apparently they've decided to bring with them to their new Mediterranean village home. (Presumably it was just too good to give up, even if they didn't mind changing their faces with a little casual plastic surgery.)

 

Mikkelsen, playing the titular "Le Fantôme" or "The Ghost," is ultimately so charmed by the car that he refuses the bounty, and even protects the couple from the second murderer sent to replace them—swapping their Edge for an old two-seat motorcycle and a couple of plane tickets to Peru.

 

In other words, the film straddles the line between the somber and the absurd—though how intentionally isn't, at first, entirely clear. The stakes are high—life and death. The hero is blocky. His motivation is goofy—a point that seems most deliberate when he pauses his hunt to nuzzle the car. The Ford seems woefully out of place, a point the story halfway strives to acknowledge but doesn't quite defuse. Its modern profile sticks out like a sore thumb against the lush, classic, dilapidated backdrop that the production so beautifully shapes.

 

Ultimately, it doesn't feel believable. This isn't a luxury automobile, and it's not obvious whether Ford is asking people to laugh at the car without quite giving reason to do so, or to applaud the car as a down-to-earth antidote to the hackneyed, dazzling underworld tropes the film goes to great lengths to polish.

 

Ultimately, it's most likely the latter. A fair reading would find the whole film a delightfully arch send-up of gangster narratives, and a celebration of modesty and morality. Regardless, the visuals are wonderful, and Mikkelsen's performance is eminently watchable—enough in its own right to keep the audience hooked, and guessing.

 

In fact, the only real crime may be the color of the car.

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