French Connection II (1975)

French Connection II (1975)

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Doyle didn't try and stop her stealing his watch because he knew it hadn't worked since 1971.
Doyle didn’t try and stop her stealing his watch because he knew it hadn’t worked since 1971.

Twitter Plot Summary: Popeye Doyle heads to France to track down the man who eluded him in the US.

Genre: Action/Crime/Drama/Thriller

Director: John Frankenheimer

Key Cast: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Bernard Fresson, Ed Lauter, Phillippe Leotard, Charles Millot

Five Point Summary:

1. An American in France? It’ll never catch on.
2. Assault on the Dutch ship.
3. Doyle is forced to take heroin.
4. Time to detox. 
5. Let the final showdown commence!

Continuing some time after the events of The French Connection, Popeye Doyle heads over to France in his ongoing quest to catch his nemesis Charnier. The tricksy Frenchman is still peddling drugs and Doyle isn’t happy that the man escaped his grasp, so the only thing he can do is head into unfamiliar territory to track down his man. On that note, was any explanation provided for the gunshot heard at the end of the first movie? Nope, let’s just gloss over any apparently minor points like that and get on with Doyle wandering around Marseille like a confused child and shouting at people.

In what may seem an apocryphal notion, French Connection 2 feels like a better film than the original, replacing the numerous scenes of people running from place to place with a deep character study of Doyle himself. None more so than when, after being captured by Charnier and drugged up to his eyeballs, Doyle then has to go cold turkey in order to get the drugs out of his system. This gives Hackman a vast amount of acting range to play with, going from quietly spoken to rage in an instant. It does however verge on caricature for the character. He’s a fish out of water in France, barely able to put three words together in French and would have perhaps been better served staying in New York and following up the case there. Given his loose cannon approach to policing it seems strange that he would be allowed to go to France on the case, let alone without any back-up from his own force. Just to emphasise the silliness of this point, he’s followed around by a couple of plain clothes police officers, so it really does make you wonder why he’s even there in the first place.

Doyle didn't react well to being told that he could never leave Marseille.
Doyle didn’t react well to being told that he could never leave Marseille.

Whilst we get a tour de force piece of acting from Hackman, the plot really isn’t up to much, leaving very little time for the story to reach a resolution but does at least finish in the same manner as the first film. That is, it ends quite suddenly. The remainder of the plot other than Doyle’s quite lengthy period of time going cold turkey, doesn’t add much to the mix. There are a couple of stand-out sequences though, specifically where Doyle and the French police attempt to catch Charnier in the act at the Dutch ship that is ferrying the drugs for him – water pumps are used to great effect and an epic shoot-out between the police and Charnier’s men takes place – and the final sequence where Doyle gives chase after Charnier and leads to the epic closing shot. Earlier I said that the number of scenes of people running has been reduced compared to the first film. This is true, however it seems that there’s the same amount of running but condensed into a single sequence. It’s a tense and entertaining sequence as Doyle tracks Charnier through the streets of Marseille as they both run for what seems like an age, and is a fitting end to the film and the ongoing storyline.

Favourite scene: The final chase sequence as Doyle tracks Charnier on foot throughout Marseille.

Quote: “I’ll tell you what I found out. I found out that you eat shit, you fucking frog, you! You goddamn scumbag, you!”

Silly Moment: Doyle goes cold turkey, and shouts at people a bit more than usual.

Score: 3.5/5

2 COMMENTS

  1. Doyle is there to lure out charnier. It’s revealed in a conversation the French polic chief has with the nyc chief. Doyle doesn’t know this but prob wouldn’t care anyway since in his mind he’s the only one that can catch him. I always wondered why leave Doyle to police almost dead. If charnier wanted heat off him then returning Doyle a junkie but not almost dead would seem more feasible but heroin is a dangerous drug and difficult to control.

  2. Oh yes, I agree completely. I know he was there as bait, I think for me it was the fact the plain clothes officers were so blatantly obvious which spoiled it. Even so, as you said Doyle wouldn’t care about that, he’s too focused on catching Charnier to care about much else.

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