Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It is the city of Paris in the year 2025 in the movie Chrysalis from director Julien Leclercq and it would appear from the outside looking in that the interior decorators, architects, automotive designers and the clothes designers of the City of Lights are on a Blue and Grey kick. Pastels are obviously out. I would fit in quite nicely in this future. On one side of town Professor Brugen (Marthe Keller) is driving with her lovely daughter Manon (Melanie Thierry) having a pleasant conversation when the pair are broadsided by a semi-trailer.

On the other side of town European Police Officer David Hoffman (Albert Dupontel) is enjoying a quiet evening with his fellow police officer wife Sarah (Smadi Wolfman) as the two are engaged in a to the death battle with super vicious criminal Dimitri Nicolov (Alain Figlarz). This is complicated by the fact the Nicolov is using what has to be the worlds most lethal machine gun. It looks like this thing shoots lasers. Unfortunately Sarah lets her guard down just a little bit and thus the already sour Officer Hoffman is now the even more sour widower Hoffman. Plus he let Nicolov get away.

But back to Dr. Brugen. Her daughter Manon seems to be recovering nicely from the accident as the plastic surgeon has completely repaired her face, but apparently she took a really nasty bump on the head which is affecting her memory. All the young woman wants to do is go home and her mother insures her that this will come in time after the testing is complete to restore her fracturing memory.

Meanwhile David is pretty much finished with being a cop but his hard-assed boss (Claude Perron) informs him that he needs to find this nut that killed his wife and to assist him in this task she’s given him a super hot new partner in Officer Marie Becker (Marie Guillard) who, while physically blessed like few women ever, could very well be the worst cop in the history of the world. Worst even than David’s dead wife who was pretty damn bad. But she does mean well.

So does this doctor attempting to repair her broken daughter and this cop looking for a crazed, kung fu possessing killer have any relation to each other? This is a French movie so it is conceivable that they might not but amazingly enough they do have a connection, but alas I can’t tell you what that connection might be because that would just spoil everything and thus spoil half of the enjoyment of watching the story to come together.

The other half of enjoying ‘Chrysalis’ is simply looking at the damn thing. Considering that filmmakers take the term ‘grey area’ to a whole new level, this is one visually arresting movie. Team Leclercq have done an amazing job with the real world set design, the judicious use of CG elements and the clever and inventive creation of new technology that conceivably could exist in the not distant future. Since this movie is classified as ‘Cyberpunk’ which far too often is a euphemism for ‘it doesn’t need to make sense’, say like in the recent visual masterpiece, but far too confusing ‘The Gene Generation’, but this is not the case with ‘Chrysalis’. Now either I’m watching way too many of these movies and my ethereal consciousness is elevating itself or the story in this one is easy enough for a simpleton such as myself to follow along without my head hurting too bad.

The basic story is a fairly simple one featuring an angry cop trying to catch a really bad guy and DuPontel and Figlarz both do angry pretty well. Figlarz also choreographed the fight sequences in the film which, while not spectacular, were still staged very well, were shot quite well and if there were stunt doubles used I could tell the difference. There were deeper elements to the story such as the migration to a one world government with this government doing whatever the hell it pleases, but these elements of the story where more underlying than overt in their presentation.

Not everything in the movie was crystal clear as there were a few elements which either weren’t explained or lost in the translation, in particular there was the inclusion of a little girl who I am unsure as to what part she played in the film, though it had to be something of some importance. I kid you not when telling you what crappy female cops the character of David was saddled with, who seemed to do some really stupid stuff simply because the story needed them to do stupid stuff for a particular event to occur. There are other things which were a bit confusing, such as this memory machine and the story concerning all of that but again it is relevant to the crux of the plot so we won’t spoil it for you.

But honestly this movie completely worked for me. It looked great, it had a nice smooth flow to it, there was plenty of action, plenty of kung fu fighting, it was cyberpunk movie that halfway made sense to me and Marie Guillard has a behind that you can rest a cup of coffee on. Yep, Chrysalis pretty much worked for me.

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