The Duchess

Starring Vin Diesel, Melanie Thierry, Charlotte Rampling and Michelle Yeoh. Directed by Mathieu Kassowitz
Running Time: 90 mins
Rated: Rated M (action violence and coarse language)

Director Mathieu Kassowitz has expressed, very strongly, his disapproval of this version of his film. For fans of this kind of futuristic action film may have to wait for the Director's Cut.

What remains is strong on locations, stunts and special effects - these locations range from an over-populated Russia, to the wilds of Mongolia and a Shangri-La convent, to Vladivostok and the ice cap between Siberia and North America, to the wilds of Canada and a New York that does not look all that different from now. The reason for the locations is that the hero, a disillusioned mercenary now seen as a terrorist, is blackmailed into bringing a special woman, a genetically engineered creation who is to be proclaimed as a new messiah and to give credence (and financial gain) to a new religion.

One of the problems is that the mercenary is played, as much he did in Pitch Black, xXx, The Chronicles of Riddick, by a grim Vin Diesel (of the Steven Seagall school of hard, expressionless action). Melanie Thierry is the girl. But, for cinema buffs, it is the supporting cast which is the most interesting: Charlotte Rampling doing he cold, haughty and cutting thing as the exploitative high priestess of the new religion, Lambert Wilson as he estranged doctor-genetic engineer husband, Mark Strong as a gung-ho drive and, best of all, Michelle Yeoh as Sister Rebecca who is the demure guardian of the young woman - though she is forced into exercising her martial arts skills. Gerard Depardieu appears in a couple of scenes grotesquely playing a grotesque criminal.

Familiar material, not always coherent (maybe due to producer interference) with some interesting moments.
20th Century FoxOut October 2

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting

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