My bosom pals on SI know I greatly relished French director Jérôme Salle’s Anthony Zimmer (Sophie Marceau, Yvan Attal).
Anthony Zimmer is a classy film, far superior to the crude Hollywood remake The Tourist featuring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.
Between Sophie Marceau and Angelina Jolie, I’d take Sophie in a heartbeat. Sophie oozes class and makes Angelina seem like a plastered hag who just teetered out of the gutter.
So given my respect for Jérôme Salle why wouldn’t I watch his 2008 film The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch once I stumbled on it at my favorite online movie service Netflix Instant.
Boy, was I surprised to learn that Largo Winch was based on a Belgian comic series.
But how well made the movie, turned out to be.
So unlike the Hollywood comic book films like Avengers that have to rely on an army of computer graphics specialists to create all those gee whiz effects to bamboozle moviegoers because there’s no story.
The action in Largo Winch, and there’s plenty of it, is all old school stuff that relies only on the actors and the camera for their impact.
None of those fancy red-colored iron suits, flying men with hammers, Batmobiles or fancy computer gimmickry.
Say what you will but not-so-humble-me thinks computer-based special effects is killing the craft of movies.
Largo Winch is essentially about a corporate succession struggle, albeit a very unusual one.
A billionaire businessman and head of the W group Nerio Winch dies suddenly, leaving behind all his shares to a secretly adopted son no one’s ever heard of previously.
Even as the stunned business world is soaking in the news of Nerio’s death, followed in quick succession by a hostile takeover bid from a Russian with a dubious background, the heir apparent Largo Winch (Tomer Sisley) is languishing in a Brazilian jail on trumped charges of drug smuggling.
The contrast between the glittering Hong Kong highrises and the filthy Brazilian prison couldn’t be starker.
Giving credo to no good deed ever going unpunished, Largo is set up by a pretty girl whom he’s just helped out of a sticky situation involving some really nasty guys.
Set in Brazil, Central Europe (Croatia) and Hong Kong, but mostly in Hong Kong, the rest of this fast-paced film is about Largo overcoming the murderous corporate intrigues that try to thwart him.
The movie moves back and forth between the rarified boardrooms of the Hong Kong highrises to Croatia and back and occasionally between the present and the past as well.
Not easily predictable, there are layers and layers of intrigue, betrayal and violent attacks in Largo Winch to keep you engrossed.
Where there’s big money, few men (and women too) are above suspicion.
And the strong forces arrayed against Largo won’t give up easily given the high stakes ($20 billion).
The action scenes are filmed well, sometimes with handheld cameras that seemingly adds extra ferocity to the violence.
The tall and lanky Tomer Sisley, who plays Largo Winch, is a decent actor who handles himself with aplomb, in both the action scenes and the other parts.
Speaking of action films, I’d go as far as to say Tomer is a better actor than Matt ‘Jason Bourne’ Damon, who’s incapable of letting go the tension in his face even for a nanosecond.
There’s nothing to complain about the rest of the cast too. Kristin Scott Thomas who plays the interim CEO Anne Ferguson after Nerio’s death brings the right iciness to her role.
You bet I can’t wait to see the sequel Largo Winch 2 aka Burma Conspiracy (2011).
If you have Netflix Instant, I strongly encourage you to watch The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch.