Sunday 25 January 2015

DVD Review - The Prey

First Published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

French crime thriller The Prey hits UK shores on DVD this month, here are Tom's thoughts on what turned out to be a surprisingly effective action flick.

When Franck Adrien (Albert Dupontel) is incarcerated in prison for masterminding a bank robbery, he is determined to see out his sentence without any trouble so that he can be reunited with his wife and young daughter, and seek out the money he stowed away before being caught. His cellmate, a suspected child molester, is targeted by a prison gang and when Adrien begrudgingly intervenes it sets in course a vicious downward spiral that could spell the end for him and his family
Albert Dupontel is perfectly cast as the wily criminal fighting not only for his life but for justice, and those familiar with French cinema may recognise him from his previous work in Irreversible and A Very Long Engagement. It is great to see Dupontel in a starring role and it is impressive how soon I was routing for his character, with his sympathetic persona and dedication to his family belying a dangerous past.

In recent years the French have given us some exceptional crime thrillers such as Tell no One, A Prophet and Mesrine, with The Prey being the latest release to follow in their footsteps. The action is fast and frenetic, with occasional jaw-dropping set pieces reminiscent of key scenes in each of the above films but with enough fresh ideas to make them stand out as unique and exciting. Avoiding the use of CGI, director Eric Valette makes sure that the stuntwork is grounded in reality whilst still pushing the envelope in terms of what is shown on screen.

Amongst all of the action there is an intriguing story which does verge upon being far-fetched at times (the number one culprit being serious injuries that are forgotten about very quickly) and although this doesn't detract from the film's entertainment value it does prevent it from reaching the level of brilliance shared by the aforementioned French thrillers which have heavily influenced The Prey. There are enough twists and turns to keep the audience on their toes throughout and it is clear that Eric Valette has come a long way since his flawed but intriguing feature film debut, Malefique, back in 2002 which was also partly set in a prison, but he has not yet honed his craft to perfection.

In a world where Hollywood churns out mindless thrillers on an almost weekly basis, it is inspiring to see a somewhat fresh take on what has become a tired genre. Those looking for their next adrenalin fix need look no further, The Prey may be flawed in paces but its breakneck speed and ferocity certainly make up for any holes in the story, with the solid acting contributing towards what is ultimately one hell of a fun ride. I only hope that with Valette's next directorial outing he can match his eye for outstanding action with a storyline that packs a more coherent punch.


The Prey is out to buy on DVD through Studio Canal

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