Take Largo himself, for example. There's no denying that Sisley has a detatched cool that seems to fit the character, but that indeterminate level of emotional enthusiasm is the only note that director Jérôme Salle ever asks Sisley to play, over and over again, for the entire 108 minute runtime. Largo beats up some thugs: detached cool. Largo discovers he's a billionaire: detached amusement. Largo discovers his father, Nerio Winch (Miki Manojlović) may have been murdered: detached concern. At least James Bond had a wry sense of humor.
The film adapts two volumes of the original comic book (or four issues) and repurposes them into a single story arc. The film is heavy with exposition and yet slow on the uptake. Largo is an adopted heir to the Winch empire, kept secret in order to protect him from danger. When Largo's father turns up dead, Largo is hanging out on the other side of the world, and the film takes too long getting the character up to speed and into the real mystery. Worse, it climbs out of one hole only to fall into another: Largo must prove his kinship with a document, leading to a fairly dull section where Largo must get to the document without showing his hand too early, lest someone steal it. Meanwhile, for an action thriller, there's plenty of characters (like Kristin Scott Thomas as the temporary CEO of the Winch Corporation, and a sniveling Karel Roden as Winch's biggest competitor) talking about business deals, all with the air of a double-cross or two to arrive in time for the big finale. The one thread that actually works is Largo's bond with his "mother" (Anne Consigny), the woman who helped care for him when Nerio wasn't around, and Bojana Panic makes a brief impression as a doctor who seems destined to return in sequels.
Some of the film's plodding nature could've been overlooked if Largo Winch was a fun action movie, but it flounders in that department as well. Although they build up Largo as a guy who can kick plenty of ass, he rarely gets a chance other than a brief fight introducing his character and another brief fight at the end, while the rest of the film's action is made up of chase sequences. Not only are these sequences lacking in invention and the crucial "oooh!" factor that one gets out of a well-placed, painful-looking stunt, they're indicative of the movie's bigger problems: we don't care enough about the villain, Largo, or the battle between the two characters enough to really get into these supposedly dramatic sequences.
Looking at the comic book covers, it's hard to believe the comics aren't good, old-fashioned fun: fancy parties with secret assassins, beautiful women, cheesy one-liners, martinis. Sadly, the film version is disappointly modern in style and execution -- this is a dark film, set too much in the real world, and concerned more about the business dealings that got Largo's father his millions than the people out to try and steal them.
The Video and Audio
A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is pretty good. The birds surrounding a jungle prison, the voices in a crowded conference hall, and the occasional action sequence all sound nice and atmopsheric on this track. The film's score also sounds quite good and dialogue is well-balanced compared to the music and effects. The packaging misleadingly notes that the disc contains "French and English Dolby Digital 5.1," but what it really means is that it contains a 5.1 track for the film's mix of French and English dialogue (as well as an unadvertised 2.0 track). Some people will probably dislike the fact that there is only one subtitle track on the disc covering both languages -- if you don't understand French, you have to watch the subtitles for the English dialogue too.
The other major extra here is a digital comic of "The Heir," the first of the Largo Winch books. A nice idea and an appreciated gesture, but I cannot imagine, having glanced at this gallery, that anyone would take the time to read the comic this way. Would've been better to include it as a booklet or as a digital download that one could read on their computer or tablet instead of struggling to decipher the text on their TV.
Trailers for Gainsbourg, Viva Riva!, Maxmanus, and Henning Mankell's "Wallander" play before the main menu. An original theatrical trailer for Largo Winch is also included.