'The Connection' is watchable but all too predictable

'The Connection' fills in the French back story to 'The French Connection,' centering on the newly appointed magistrate (Jean Dujardin).

Jerome Mace/Courtesy of Drafthouse Films
Detective Pierre Michel (Oscar® Winner Jean Dujardin) in Drafthouse Films’ crime thriller The Connection.

Set in Marseille in the 1970s at the height of the heroin trade, “The Connection” fills in the French back story to “The French Connection.” 

 Jean Dujardin plays real-life Pierre Michel, the newly appointed magistrate trying to shut down the heroin connection; his nemesis is crime boss Gaetan Zampa (Gilles Lellouche), who roughs up his underlings but, when they get rubbed out, pays for a fancy funeral. 

Director Cédric Jimenez has the finesse of a Hollywood slickster. From scene to scene “The Connection” is never less than watchable, although it is also never less than predictable. He overdoes the two-sides-of-the-same-coin simpatico between Pierre and Gaetan – they even look alike – and he is altogether too enamored of the allure of crime. This is a common problem in crime-centric movies: The bad guys are almost always more fascinating than the good guys. He needn’t have worried here. Dujardin’s bull-necked, hard-charging performance makes Pierre a worthy adversary. He gives righteousness some muscle tone. Grade: B (Rated R for strong violence, drug content, and language.)

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