A wounded, unarmed man fleeing two armed pursuers is knocked off his feet by a motorcyclist in a city traffic tunnel. Later, a nurse-trainee acts quickly to save this unidentified man’s life after someone tries to kill him in an intensive care unit.
Nurse-trainee Samuel Pierret’s (Gilles Lellouche) momentary glimpse of a violent, secret world makes him a part of it. The next thing Pierret knows, he comes to in the Paris apartment he shares with his pregnant wife Nadia (Elena Anaya) with a bloody gash on his head.
A ringing telephone stirs him from the blow he took. Nadia is a hostage of those who tried to kill the intensive care patient, Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem). Her abductors tell Pierret that they will kill Nadia if he does not bring them Sartet, now under police custody in the hospital, within three hours, or if he contacts the police.
A race against time becomes a chase across Paris, mostly on foot, through the Metro. For this peaceful, law-abiding, expectant father, all of a sudden everyone has guns they are ready to use and the line blurs between who are good guys and bad guys. Pierret knows only that he must save his wife.
In a sense, the story is similar to Peter Weir’s Witness (1985), in which a small Amish boy travelling with his mother in Philadelphia happens to witness a brutal murder in a train station restroom and becomes the target of extremely violent and dangerous people.
The less said about this nail-biter the better: the thrills and chills should all be the viewer’s. This taut, action-packed thriller harks back to the French and American B-pictures of the 1940s and 1950s that delivered ripping yarns in less than 90 minutes.
As in the old movies, the action in this film is character- rather than technology-driven.
In an interview, Lellouche referred to director Fred Cavayé’s process of making the film, in which Lellouche and his colleagues did their own bone-crunching, welt-raising stunts, as ‘un espèce de bordel organisé’—a controlled chaos.
To the credit of Cavayé, his editor Benjamin Weill, actors and crew, the chaos—and the film’s artistry—moves too quickly and smoothly to notice.