Revenge thrillers have become so overdone and so formulaic that they barely hold water these days. Ever since Liam Neeson decided to fight back against his daughter’s captors in 2008’s immensely popular Taken, audiences have been thirsting for similar action fare ever since. The concept of a middle-aged man kicking ass seems to be a very appealing premise for many moviegoers and studios seem to be capitalizing on this phenomenon more and more. Famed French actor Gerard Depardieu has joined this bandwagon with the latest action-thriller Viktor and the results are lukewarm at best.
When his son is murdered in Moscow, former art thief Victor Lambert (Depardieu) takes it upon himself to find those responsible and bring them to “justice”. In his vigilante-like mission, Lambert is joined by his sexy Russian lover Alexandra (Elizabeth Hurley) and ex-partner-in-crime and choreographer Souliman (Eli Danker). Soon, bullets fly and car crashes ensue, with Lambert causing most of it. In his bloody quest, the body count rises and property damage costs throughout Moscow skyrocket.
There is nothing new in Viktor. It is a completely by-the-numbers and very predictable vehicle for the aging Depardieu, who seems a little bored in the titular role. There are scenes of violence scattered throughout, including a pretty uncomfortable torture scene. These harsh sequences are softened by the tender romance developed by Lambert and Alexandra. It’s actually really nice to see Elizabeth Hurley acting again even if her role could have been pulled off by basically any other beautiful actress. Her role of Alexanadra, compliments Lambert very well and you can actually believe that these two are a couple.
Though Viktor may not be a perfect film, there is one aspect of it that makes it stand out and that feature is the location. Viktor was filmed entirely in Russia and that fact does nothing but help the film since its story takes place in Moscow. The location basically serves as a character itself with strong personality and wide appeal. When viewing this film, one will feel transported to Russia and that’s a wonderful feeling. When a film takes you to another land in an almost seamless fashion, well that’s a great thing.
With so many films like Viktor out there captivating audiences, people won’t mind another. This is a movie made for the masses and not for critics or lovers of art cinema. Viktor is a popcorn actioner with widespread appeal. It doesn’t contain a deep heartfelt message and the performances will not leave you feeling breathless. Gerard Depardieu is an intriguing actor and he’s provided some decent performances in the past. Unfortunately, Viktor is a mindless revenge film that relies heavily on violence and sensory stimulation. The only saving grace is the Russian location which is shot exceptionally well. Writer/director Phillipe Martinez (Harsh Times, Wake of Death) and cinematographer Jean-Francois Hensgens (District 13: Ultimatum, Our Children) should be commended for their exquisite visual styles which only help Viktor. Sadly, these two individuals seem to be the only members of the production who actually did work. Everyone else, including Depardieu seems to be on autopilot.