The Connection (2015)

A business that turns snow into gold.

I'm in Kansas City for business and I was having a drink at a lounge the other night when I looked across the street to see the sign for an Alamo Drafthouse. I got so excited - I absolutely love the Alamo Drafthouse. It's a small movie theater chain that really loves movies - everything before the show is catered to the love of film - and allows you to order micro brews and food while you watch the film. The experience is fantastic. I went to my first one in Virginia a long time ago and had always wanted to go back.

Recently, the Drafthouse launched their own distribution label, Drafthouse Films, which has released quite a few movies over the past few years (including a few Academy Award nominated documentaries). The Connection is one of those movies. If you feel like checking this out, you may have to wait until Blu-Ray or streaming, as it's only playing in very select theaters.

The Connection is a French language film that follows the (semi-true) story of Magistrate Pierre Michel (played by Jean Dujardin) and his quest to take down the France's most powerful drug smuggling ring, led by the charismatic 'Tany' Zampa. It's set in 1975, and is basically the French side of William Friedkin's The French Connection from 1971.

This movie has an epic scope. We spend a lot of time with both Michel and Zampa, who both lead parallel family lives while navigating the heroin business. Of course, when you're on either side of that trade, people are bound to want to take you down. The movie features a 'Heat-like' meeting between the men at one point and you realize then just how electric both actors are in the roles. The amount of wit they throw back and forth is great, and several lines had me laughing out loud in the theater.

There are two things that I really loved about this movie. First, the violence is brutal, but it's not stylized. It just 'happens'. There are no crazy, outlanding gun fights, no brutal hand to hand combat, just necessary, matter-of-fact violence. No character is safe from a belly full of lead. Second, the movie looked fantastic. It looked like a movie from the 70's. It was bright and colorful and I was really able to believe that this was France/NYC circa 1985. Not to mention the soundtrack that accompanied the visuals, which was outstanding.

If the movie has any drawbacks, it's that it feels a bit long. However, it is fitting, seeing as though we get to move with these characters over the course of years during this investigation.

If you're a fan of crime movies with large scopes, period pieces, or just really smart crime movies, give The Connection (also known as La French) a shot. It deserves your attention.

My final score: A-