“Earth And Blood” (Netflix film in French language, originally titled “La Terre et le sang”); Cast: Sami Bouajila, Sofia Lesaffre, Eric Ebouaney, Samy Seghir; Direction: Julien Leclercq; Rating: * * and 1/2 (two and a half stars)
By Vinayak Chakravorty
For an 80-minute action drama, “Earth And Blood” seems like a patchwork of genre-specific scenes set up to decidedly arrive at a set-piece climax of violence. Which is not saying much, because the action ending is hardly innovative in the entertainment quotient it manages to strike. The finale makes you realise you have just watched a compilation of action movie cliches and little else.
Julien Leclercq’s new French film, with a translated title as fetching as “Earth And Blood”, promised much — especially if you had sampled its blazing trailer, or if your inner action addict came of age watching Luc Besson, Louis Leterrier or Olivier Megaton’s simply irresistible bloodsoaked fare that influenced French violent cinema — nay, cinema of violence anywhere in the world — over the past decades.
Leclercq himself would perhaps find an indulgent nod in the club of new-age mainstream action titans from France, if you relished his earlier thrillers as “The Assault”, “The Informant” or “Braqueurs”. All of which, when taken into account, foxes you as to why the writer-filmmaker’s latest attempt seems caught in a time warp. “Earth And Blood”, for all its explosive escapades, is merely reminiscent of nineties-style screen commercialism.
At the core of the story is Said (Sami Bouajila), owner of a sawmill far from the maddening crowd. He plans to sell the mill to secure daughter Sarah’s (Sofia Lesaffre) life. Their quiet life is thrown into disarray with the sudden arrival of a bunch of ruthless gangsters. It doesn’t take Said long to realise there is something that the gangsters deem priceless stashed away in some corner of his mill, which they will take no matter what extent they have to go to.
Hopelessly outnumbered by the killer mob, Said just has one advantage to bank on. No one knows his mill as well as he does.
The build-up is like an investment into the detailed and bloodsoaked climax fight for survival that Said plays out with the gang.
There is not much to do but sit back, switch off your mind and take in the assembly-line violence as it unfolds. The mayhem that overruns the story through most of the second half has an advantage, you decide — since there is very little dialogue happening in this portion of the film, it does not matter whether you understand French or not.
With “Earth And Blood”, Netflix’s run of absolutely forgettable ‘original’ fare continues. Time for some serious stock-taking.