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PopGap #22: The Professional (1981)

PopGap #22: The Professional (1981)

Written by dorrk
31 December 2016

Your return, is it for love or provocation?

This French action thriller promised a lot but delivered very little. Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as an assassin sacrificed by his government to appease an African dictator. He claws his way back to France to make those who betrayed him pay for their transgressions. If the idea of The Bourne Identity mixed with John Boorman's Point Blank, scored by Ennio Morricone and starring French New Wave icon Belmondo, smells like a feast, director Georges Lautner had no idea how to make much from those tasty ingredients. Belmondo is too whimsical to make this hardened killer believable, and the tone of The Professional whiplashes carelessly between silliness, sleaze and drama. Cyrielle Clair and Elisabeth Margoni are attractive and sympathetic love interests, but they are also more interesting in their few moments than the protagonist who infatuates and neglects them both. An overall more serious movie was needed to earn the tough ending. Not uninteresting, but The Professional consistently disappoints. Even Morricone's fantastic theme "Chi Mai," which was lifted from an earlier score, feels poorly (and over-) utilized.

MovieLens' recommendation of The Professional as similar to Raiders of the Lost Ark is a real long-shot that didn't pay-off. Only very general tropes of the action genre connect the two movies, and the gulf in quality is even an greater chasm between them.

PopGap #22: The Professional (1981)

Trailer for The Professional (1981)