Olga Kurylenko in Sentinelle.
What use is your algorithm if it doesn’t alert me to a film by which Olga Kurylenko goes full-on John Wick on the French Riviera? Julien Leclercq’s Sentinelle appears to be at risk of falling by the Netflix cracks — one of many many overseas movies that premiere quietly on the streamer with out making a ripple culturally — and on some degree, it’s not exhausting to see why. Kurylenko’s profession has perhaps not gone in addition to some hoped after her flip as a “Bond lady” in Quantum of Solace, however she’s a terrific actress, and has endeared herself to weirdos like me with roles in such critically dismissed however secretly superb movies as Oblivion, To the Marvel (for which I’d have fortunately given her an Oscar), and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Within the grand scheme of issues, there are definitely worthier titles to spotlight than an 80-minute French action-movie knockoff that may have gone straight to DVD again within the days when DVDs had been a factor. Nonetheless, Sentinelle is an admirably swift, elegantly filmed spine-snapping motion thriller with moments of peculiar grace.
The movie opens in Syria, the place Klara (Kurylenko), working as a French military interpreter, witnesses the killing of her comrades by a younger suicide bomber.
Returning residence to Good, she is transferred to work with Opération Sentinelle, a real-life, ongoing home army operation France initiated after the ghastly terror assaults of 2015. The spectacle of bands of totally armed troopers slowly, tensely strolling alongside sunny Mediterranean boardwalks as odd residents jog and mothers go by with strollers is definitely a dissonant picture, and the movie embraces the surrealism and monstrosity of this new actuality.
Shattered by her wartime expertise and popping opioids like sweet, Klara sees threats in every single place. At one level, she trains her rifle on a toddler whose father is tying his shoelaces, as a result of the child is making the identical open-armed stance that the boy within the movie’s opening sequence did. It’s a moderately blunt, apparent character second — nevertheless it additionally means that Klara’s trauma is one small a part of a common environment of suspicion and hate. Later, she chases after a mysterious determine alongside the waterfront; when she catches him, she discovers that it’s her seller.
All the time on edge, Klara lastly loses it when her youthful sister Tania (Marilyn Lima) is overwhelmed and sexually assaulted after going off with some Russians at an area nightclub. Suspicion quickly settles on Yvan Kadnikov (Andrey Gorlenko) and his father Leonid Kadnikov (Michel Nabokoff), the latter an oligarch with buddies in excessive locations and a military of bodyguards at his disposal. Annoyed with the cops’ methodical strategy, Klara takes issues into her personal fingers, and a number of body-slamming, limb-breaking, head-smashing beatdowns ensue.
The aforementioned John Wick films undoubtedly appear to be an inspiration right here, however Sentinelle doesn’t fairly match the gloriously cartoonish heights of that sequence. For starters, it lacks a Hollywood finances, and let’s face it, Olga Kurylenko isn’t precisely a veteran ass-kicker like Keanu Reeves or Charlize Theron. However that may be an asset, too. Klara by no means comes off as a killing machine (not even of the lumbering, dadsploitationy type, à la Liam Neeson). She’s quiet, however she’s not cool. She’s susceptible. She will get harm. Each battle scene feels prefer it might simply finish together with her useless or maimed, which brings each unpredictability and a way of penance to it. Klara needs revenge — however part of her perhaps additionally needs oblivion and absolution. The image is fleet, nevertheless it’s not gentle. And Kurylenko, whose magnificence has at all times had a haunted high quality to it, is type of excellent within the half; Klara’s unrelenting desperation holds collectively the movie’s competing tones.
One doesn’t wish to make too nice a declare for Sentinelle. Motion fiends may want it had extra breathless setpieces. Arthouse varieties may balk on the easy characterizations and bare-bones storyline, particularly because the movie flirts with some vital hot-button points (terrorism, militarism, assault, habit). However there’s one thing to be stated for the lean, modest effectivity of a film that is aware of the right way to seize your consideration and never overstay its welcome.