This might as well have been a Liam Neeson film for all the mind-numbing generic action that seems to have been clumsily written in to it. At its heart, Mea Culpa is a foreign film trying to appeal to the American action market.
I thought foreign films were supposed to be more creative than generic action films. Clearly, this film substituted story for cheap thrills. For a ‘French thriller’, there are surprisingly little thrills in this, dare I say it, disappointment to French cinema.
Vincent Lindon and Gilles Lellouche fight bald henchmen because someone’s son saw something or other. That will be how you’ll tell the plot of this feature to your friends. The story is largely forgettable but goes something like this. Simon (Lindon) is an armoured car driver for the police. He becomes intoxicated on the job and the family that he is driving gets killed in a car accident that he caused. He is discharged from the police and has sleepless nights, etc. Some gang members who kill people kill some people, and Simon’s son Theo (Max Baissette de Malglaive) just happens to witness it – cue unrealistic chase sequence. Theo, a nine year-old child, outruns a gang member. I’ll let that sink in for a moment….
Their family goes to the police for some more filler dialogue, but when they leave, some motorbike-riding gangsters attempt to shoot the kid in what you might call extremely public daylight. The mother, Alice (Nadine Nabaki), tells her child to run while she remains behind the cover of a car, a wildly irresponsible thing to say to a nine year-old child. The kid runs and again outruns a man with a knife. Simon apprehends the man with a knife. There is a big shootout at a nightclub and…that’s it!
All in all, the film felt rushed and irregularly paced; throwing in a chase scene, then a forced emotional moment, then a shootout, then another forced emotional moment, followed by another chase scene. It was a disappointing feature that did not put all of the creativity it had into character development. Instead, it wasted its potential on pointless chase sequences to try and over-saturate the audience into saying “wooh, hit that guy, yeah.”
I do have to give some credit for the editing, cinematography and artful direction, though. Kudos, Fred Cavaye. The storytelling could use some practice and the writing was lacking. The foley was noticeably uninspired and the music was forgettable. Not a bad effort but could have been a lot better.