Director: Frank Gastambide | Script: Franck Gastambide and Charles van Tieghem | Cast: Franck Gastambide (Stan), Ramzy Bedia (Reda), Anouar Toubali (Charlie), Brahim Bouhlel (Brahim), Essined Aponte (Marissa), Mike Tyson (Robbie), others | Time to play: 104 minutes | Year: 2023
Action movie makers have a wide variety of tactics at their disposal to inadvertently tire out their audiences. This way, they can throw an inimitable storyline at you, complete with storylines and quests that are hard to follow. Some also help to put the plot completely in the background in order to have an excuse to take on as many chases, gunfights, and tough talk as possible for the viewer.
french action vehicle Medellin falls into the latter category. The story and characters are so minimally developed that they mostly work on the laughing muscles. That’s good, because director and lead actor Franck Gastambide is using his fourth feature as a light comedy. It doesn’t take much effort to flesh out your own scenery. We went into action almost immediately, only to not rest for almost an hour and a half.
Garage owner Stan (Gastambide himself) and gym owner Reda are like siblings to each other and have largely grown up in the same family. Reda’s younger brother, Brahim, idolizes notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and runs a blog in which he glorifies and imitates Escobar. When Brahim plays the influencer in Colombia, he is kidnapped by the Medellín cartel. Stan and Reda gather a group of friends to rescue Brahim, but only the little human Chafix shows up.
Gastambide initially adds an atmosphere reminiscent of American comedy. The Hangover. The first places they visit are a bar and a strip club. The French gentlemen aren’t quite aware of what kind of cartel they’re dealing with, and tentatively decide to quickly kidnap a member of the drug gang, in exchange. When Brahim’s disappearance turns out to be slightly different than the men thought, trouble mounts and the accelerator can be pressed for an inimitable series of action scenes.
Medellin it doesn’t have more than that. Gastambide had a large budget at his disposal, resulting in a high production value, although green screens are sometimes clearly visible. In any case, this quality has not entered the script and the jokes, because laughing at the Motie is really out of fashion. An hour later, Gastambide also conjures ex-boxer Mike Tyson out of his top hat, but the aggressive American doesn’t really do much more than yell at the French in a command center packed with screens.
Medellin it’s packed with momentum, but would benefit more from the requisite rest points and a more layered setting. It is a great achievement that Gastambide portrays likeable characters with such a mediocre story. The strongest asset he has in his hands is the four men and their mutual friendship. But is the action lover waiting for that?
Medellin can be seen in first video.