September 1, 2010
Largo Winch? Who hell he?
Largo is an improbably named Belgian comic book hero, and is a cross between James Bond, Bruce Wayne and Bill Gates. Adopted from a Bosnian orphanage as a baby by rich-as-Croesus Nerio Winch (Miki Manojlovic), the founder and majority shareholder of the hulking W Group, little Largo is kept under wraps and left in the care of a friend of the family. Thirty years later, Nerio is offed whilst kickin’ back on his luxury yacht in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, leaving his secret heir to be revealed to the rest of the W Group’s board. The now greasily handsome Largo (Tomer Sisley), who’s been travelling the world in denial of the role his adoptive father had planned for him, steps forward to claim his 20 billion smackeroo inheritance.
Ah, but only if it were that simple.
As is the way of such matters, things don’t go quite as planned. It seems that there’s a plot involving a Russian gun runner-turned legit businessman Mikhail Korksy (Hellboy’s Karel Roden) to deny Largo his inheritance and launch a hostile takeover of W Group. Or is there? Is the dastardly Russkie being played for a mugski by someone from inside the W Group, possibly Kristen Scott Thomas, as she’s the only actor in the whole film you’ll recognise?
What follows is best described as aiming for the Bond/Bourne bullseye, but missing its target somewhat. The plot moves at a pace, but falls into the trap of going too fast, and leads to many ‘hold on, what happened there’ moments. One instant, Largo’s a penniless, bearded bum who’s been framed and on his way to an Amazonian jail after some brisk jig-a-jig with the seductive, mercenary Léa (Mélanie Thierry), the next he’s on his father’s yacht in Hong Kong. Then, he’s in a luxury speedboat on his way to a private island before being kidnapped in a Rolls Royce. The location changes are dizzying, and the flashbacks, though not as melon-twisting as Primer, will no doubt bore and confuse those with a short attention span.
The big problem I had with this film was that Largo is a hard character to root for. Not having read the comic books, this was my first exposure to the dude. Sisley has charisma and brings a believable physicality to the role, but for most of the time he comes across as a right old smuggo. With the Bond and Bourne films, there’s an emotional investment involved; Bond saves the world whilst offing a charismatic bad guy, and Bourne is an amnesia-stricken ex CIA black-ops assassin who just wants to be left in peace. Largo is just on the hunt for some shares that will guarantee his vast inheritance – one that he doesn’t want, mind – and save the oily hides of the one-dimensional bunch of characters who are W Group’s board of directors.
If you can get past this, it’s not a bad film. Being WhatDVD’s resident B-movie nimrod, I know a cheap film when I see one, so this was a pleasant surprise in that respect. Denis Rouden’s cinematography is of a high standard, the locations are impressive and there’s a fair bit of vehicle porn. The only area that they’ve seem to scrimp on is Kristen Scott Thomas’ wig, which makes her look like a Midwich Cuckoo.
If you try not to pay too much attention to the wafer thin plot, you’ll enjoy Largo Winch. However, I can’t help feeling that it could have been much more had the script been beefed up as much as the leading man.
Not to worry, Belgium – Spielberg’s take on the be-quiffed, plus-four sporting Tintin is just around the corner.