Being a movie webmaster doesn’t mean one is automatically a film geek – even though I’ve seen a lot of movies, for example out of the Top 20 films voted by the AFI in their recent Top 100 poll I’ve seen just six of them in full. “The French Connection” is an example of one I’d always heard about but had never seen, and now that it has come out on DVD I was eager to see it and was not disappointed.
As someone seeing it for the first time 30 years after its release, I can say that the famous car chase sequence is exciting but has a lot less impact these days, still that doesn’t take away from one quite brilliant yet simple cop drama.
What makes this work is the reality of it all – Friedkin uses handheld cameras, very normal looking people, lackluster ordinary day environments and sheer cleverness to create one of the most ‘urban’ feeling films you’ll ever see that’s still to this day exciting and tense.
There’s not very much dialogue at all, nearly half of which is subtitled French, but this allows the slightly too “in your face” musical score to shine through whilst many of the tense sequences are purely visual in nature such as an unforgettable bit in a subway station where Hackman tries to stick on Rey’s tail.
Others are very 70’s such as the raid on the African-American bar and Hackman’s racist comments which would never be done in a movie today. Performances are solid all round, the script is great, the directing superb, the action still intense and an unforgettable – albeit confusing as hell and VERY abrupt ending. A true Hollywood classic.