Aptly titled The Last Deadly Mission but also known as MR 73, this is an overloaded moody, and dark thriller. It’s probably the weakest ex-cop Olivier Marchal’s crime thriller offering a cliched story and characters. Still, if you’re looking for that moody, alcohol-drenched noir extravaganza unfolding in a cloud of cigarette smoke, you’ve found it. The movie follows detective Schneider, a man broken by a personal tragedy as he stumbles through two gruesome cases. I considered Daniel Auteuil actor who was more of a mainstream guy, as I watched him in a couple of those roles ( Le placard, Mon meilleur ami, La doublure) before checking out his more serious roles.
He was really good and believable here, carrying the movie as a true lead should. Beautiful and very talented Olivia Bonamy, whom you might know from Ils was also great. The Last Deadly Mission offers a view into a bleak and desperate world. I can hardly recall a more depressing movie as we learn more about police culture and the minds of killers. The story is somewhat disjointed and falling under its ambitious premise. It would seem that Marchal works best with constrained and straight-forward narratives like in his other movies 36 Quai des Orfèvres, Les Lyonnais, and Bronx. There are also a lot of stereotypical twists and situations that you could see a mile away.
The movie seems to be reveling in these dark and uncomfortable scenes, with the camera hanging in the air. A definition of a style over substance. When you add to this the runtime of just over two hours, MR 73 becomes a real mission for a casual viewer. For those of us hungry for something darker, this noir extravaganza will do just fine.
What you’re about to watch is a nightmare. A nightmare that’s detective Louis Schneider’s reality. For years and years, he was one of the best detectives in the beautiful coastal city of Marseilles solving many cases. However, after a terrible tragedy, he’s a different man. Drinking a bottle of whiskey a day, he seems to be just waiting for the alcohol to kill him.
After a serious incident, he’s pulled from the force and his last case, a serial killer whom he’s yet to catch. This is the only thing that was keeping him going and now dedicates himself completely to it. He must solve the case and catch his man. The corrupt and incompetent police department does little to help him. At the same time, a man he arrested many years ago is about to be released…
Right from the opening scene, Marchal sets up the mood and the world of MR 73. The blend of despair, alcoholic stupor, and machoism are perfectly mixed without dominant elements. When you add to this the gray and brooding cinematography you get one hell of an atmosphere. However, the contrast between the accent on the gritty reality and plausibility of some of the scenes is stark. The scene where our two detectives confront the killer is almost laughable. The same goes for some of the character development. At least they got the alcoholism part right. Frighteningly so, if I might add.
The Last Deadly Mission is a flawed movie, no doubt about it. The somewhat intriguing story, immersive and dark atmosphere, and style should keep you going till the end. I should also mention that some of the scenes are pretty visceral and downright disturbing. Something that should not come as a surprise since this is a serial killer movie. Those scenes are exactly the thing that the recent thriller The Little Things was missing. Finally, the movie is supposedly based on true events although I wasn’t able to find links to actual events so take this with a grain of salt.
Director: Olivier Marchal
Writer: Olivier Marchal
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Olivia Bonamy, Francis Renaud, Philippe Nahon, Moussa Maaskri, Christian Mazucchini, Louise Monot
Fun Facts: The French title come from one of the weapon used in the movie, the MR73, a pistol manufactured by Manurhin in 1973 (hence the name). This one fired .357 or .38 ammunition and had a reputation of solidity and accuracy.