Whereas I used to associate French movies with mostly unwatchable, artsy crap while growing up, there have been a shitload of solid action flicks, horror movies and thrillers coming out of France ever since Luc Besson started building his empire. With Arès, writer-director Jean-Patrick Benes has now added a sci-fi action flick to the list that – while not great - is worth a watch.
It’s sci-fi so you know the drill… we fucked up the world. People are out of work, living on the streets and most of them are either doing something shady or they make their money serving as human guinea pigs for pharmaceutical companies who go to extremes to keep their stock prices up.
Arès (Ola Rapace) took door number three and became a free fighter, a sport that seems to have replaced petanque as the national sport. He even used to be one of the best until he suffered brain damage from a bad batch of steroids. Now, he just tries to get by. That is, until his sister gets framed for possession of a gun and he needs money pronto in order to get her out. So he agrees to try out a new drug called HFX that will allow him to beat his opponents to a bloody pulp while making enough money to get his sister out. But oh oh, looks like there is more going on than meets the eye!
Yeah, it’s not a great story. And Rapace seems more adept at punching people than stringing words together. But the movie does look great. Everything is dark and dirty and national monuments like the Eiffel Tower are degraded to places where you hang gigantic billboards that broadcast corporate propaganda.
As a whole, Arès is entertaining enough, but it is unfortunately more Babylon A.D. than Strange Days.