That Man from Rio ★★★½

The World Is More Than Enough 2: Back To The 30 Countries (17/30 - France)

But he's from Paris!

It's taken far too long for me to get round to watching another Jean-Paul Belmondo action caper after absolutely loving The Professional a couple of years ago. The plan was actually to watch How To Destroy The Reputation Of The Greatest Secret Agent tonight but after discovering that the version I had bookmarked had no bloody sound, I was still determined to get my Belmondo fix.

That I did with That Man From Rio. This is a film that, much like The Professional, paces itself in a way that if you get slightly distracted for a couple of minutes that you can easily miss something quite excellent. A couple of times I had to rewind this back because I missed another chase or brawl and because they are generally so great in this film, you really do want to go back and make sure you catch them again.

The plot pre-dates Indiana Jones films by well over 15 years for sheer fantastical nonsense and is some daft thing about Amazonian treasure and statuettes or something that doesn't matter. The film is actually set in motion when Belmondo hilariously blasts off after kidnapped fiancée Françoise Dorléac (why wasn't I informed that Catherine Deneuve had an even more breathtakingly beautiful sister?) and then almost never stops for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

The film did worry me about half an hour in because Belmondo somehow picks up an irritating child as his sidekick for a few minutes, but fortunately he buggers off mysteriously a little later and doesn't reappear for the rest of the film. Thank fuck for that, that's the last thing you need in a film like this, some annoying little shitbag getting in the way and generally being about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit.

Common sense prevails and Belmondo is left to throw himself around Brazil with some lunatic stunts that even Jackie Chan might think twice about doing. One thing I've noticed from this and The Professional is that the fight scenes are hilariously messy. They look like they've been choreographed by someone who has never seen a fight in his or her life, but they are so much more realistic and fun that way. A bar brawl towards the end of the film is one of the better ones that I've seen.

It doesn't come to much of a satisfying climax on several levels and I found that a few moments didn't really work, probably due to the fact that I struggle with some facets of French humour and farce. That said, the film does effect one twist that I really wasn't expecting, or certainly not from the character involved, and that was perhaps its biggest plus point.

Director Philippe de Broca shoots it all with necessary chaos but at the same time particularly captures the then barren cityscape of Brasilia really vividly. As great as Belmondo is in pretty much everything he does here, Dorléac's performance as a flighty museum curator is wonderful. You never really quite understand her character fully and I'm not sure Dorléac does either, but she makes sure you can never take your eyes off her. Would you want to though? No you wouldn't!

Not quite as brilliant as The Professional but also far better than the 'James Bond spoof' it is lazily labelled as a lot of the time, That Man From Rio shows that I was indeed an idiot to take so long to watch another Belmondo caper.