Lost Bullet 2 is hands down one of the best actioners of the year.
With the avalanche of movies and television thrust upon increasingly weary viewers these last few years, no one outlet can keep up with every release on every platform. And so it goes that the first Lost Bullet was never on InRO‘s radar, appearing at first blush to be just another imported Netflix acquisition soon to be lost in the gaping maw of streaming’s never-ending appetite for content. It was, then, a delightful surprise to eventually stumble upon a lean, razor-sharp action-thriller, modestly scaled but containing some fine hand-to-hand combat and a couple of killer vehicular stunts as the cherry on top. In a rare instance of Netflix giving audiences something that they actually want, director Guillaume Pierret and the entire cast have returned for Lost Bullet 2, hands down one of the best action movies of the year (it’s impossible to discuss part 2 without major spoilers for part 1, so if you haven’t seen the original yet stop, reading this and go watch it, asap).
When we last saw Lino (Alban Lenoir), the ex-con/genius mechanic with a heart of gold on a work release program to super-charge police cruisers, he had just escaped the clutches of murderous corrupt cop Areski (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and cleared his own name in the deaths of his mentor and friend Charas (Ramzy Bedia) and foster brother Quentin (Rod Paradot). Part 2 picks up immediately after the end of the first film, with Areski now on the run from the authorities and Lino obsessed with catching him. A determined but increasingly haggard Lino begins to stake out the home of Areski’s now-abandoned wife and young son, much to the chagrin of Julia (Stefi Celma), Lino’s ex and one of the only cops who helped him in the previous film. When Areski sends some thugs to collect his wife and kid, forcibly if necessary, Lino springs into action, taking out the entire crew in a swift, brutal beat down. Arriving on the scene afterwards, Julia gives Lino an ultimatum — join the force and help her in an official capacity or continue down the dark road of all-consuming vengeance.
Fast-forward one year, and Lino is on the force. He’s even converted Charas’ old car (a key plot point from part 1) into a sleek new hot rod, a constant reminder to live up to his old friend’s example. Pierret indulges in an exciting chase sequence as Lino and Julia pursue some drug dealers to the France/Spain border, but the meat of the story involves the fate of Areski’s former partner, Marco (Sebastien Lalanne), presumed dead by Lino’s hands at the end of part 1. Not so, as Marco has actually been scurried away by Lt. Moss (Pascale Arbillot) and placed in witness protection. Moss is building a case against other corrupt cops in the department and using Marco as her key informant. Needless to say, when Lino finds out that Marco is not only alive but will avoid jail time in exchange for testifying, he becomes infuriated. Complicating matters are the squad of tactical cops who want Marco dead before he can testify, and the fact that Julia knew about Moss’ plan and (reluctantly) kept it from Lino. These various threads come to a head in a remarkable set piece that lands smack dab in the middle of the movie. Marco has been brought to HQ, the perfect time for him to be squired away and dealt with by the bad guys. But Lino breaks him out, determined to get him into Spain where he can stand trial for crimes committed in that country. And so Lino must avoid the bad cops, fight his own allies who are trying to stop him, and keep Marco from getting away. The sequence moves in phases, as Lino, Marco in tow, first evades, then fights a dozen or so people in the police squad car garage, ultimately segueing into a car chase with Marco stashed in the trunk and a pissed-off Julia in hot pursuit.
The fights here are fantastic: not the carefully choreographed intricacy of kung fu movies, but instead a forceful, battering-ram style full of body slams and hurling things into other things. Lenoir has a kind of coiled, pit bull physicality, all grappling and lunging and sheer brute force. It’s not graceful, just pure survivor viscerality — these punches look like they hurt. The car stunts are equally impressive, and are a huge step up from the first film. Pierret and cinematographer Morgan S. Dalibert have an eye for clean, precise compositions, allowing high-speed pursuits and the ensuing collisions to play out with minimal cutting and maximum impact. And just wait until you see Chekov’s electric car spikes in action, an absurd idea that is a joy to watch in execution. For fans of a certain kind of old-school action movie, Lost Bullet 2 is a tonic. The Fast & Furious franchise has descended into CGI-abetted nonsense, determined to defy the laws of physics at every turn, while the Mission: Impossible series keeps upping the ante with the best death-defying stunts that an unlimited budget can buy. Lost Bullet is human-scaled, still enamored with old-fashioned stunts done practically and with minimal fuss. Part 2 ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, basically demanding a part 3. We should all hope that they don’t stop there, but deliver a new Lost Bullet movie every couple of years, for as long as Pierret and Lenoir will keep making them.
You can currently stream Guillaume Pierret’s Lost Bullet 2 on Netflix.