The always magnetic Matthias Schoenaerts stars in this character study/paranoia-stricken home invasion thriller from acclaimed French director Alice Winocour (Augustine, Home).
He plays Vincent, a veteran Afghanistan soldier who is eager to get back out into the thick of things despite a heavy dose of PTSD and hearing loss. As a way to keep himself sharp, he takes on a seemingly straightforward job at his friend’s security firm in which he is assigned to be a bodyguard for the trophy wife (Diane Kruger) and young son of a rich businessman.
But when the husband’s shady business dealings cause his lavish estate and unsuspecting family to be targeted, Vincent must do everything he can to protect them from harm.
Schoenaerts is impressive here as always, furthering his tough but still sensitive persona for which he’s become known over the last few years, whether it’s in sweeping romances like Far From the Madding Crowd or gritty crime dramas like Bullhead. He lends dramatic weight and alluring charisma to a quite thinly written central character.
There are, quite awkwardly, two films at play here. Firstly, there’s the character study of an army vet doing his best to cope – taking too many prescription drugs included – to maintain his macho exterior as a tough guy able to handle any situation. All the while dealing with the fact that he’s falling in love with the married woman and caring mother he’s assigned to protect.
Then there’s the home invasion thriller, the eruption point of which the film steadily drives towards for much of its runtime. Unfortunately, however, the film is never quite able to gel the two things into a cohesive whole, being far more effective as the character study than the wannabe Hollywood thriller its ultimately shoehorned into being.
There’s much to admire, from its keenly sustained sense of unease and paranoia to its humane feeling found in the film’s quieter, more character driven-scenes. And Winocour certainly exhibits a stylish directorial panache, often lighting her action in the kind of neon hue usually reserved for the work of Nicolas Winding Refn.
But it’s just a shame the film doesn’t stick to its more unique guns when it morphs into a Hollywoodised thriller that fizzles out rather than makes any sort of lasting impact.