Adventurous French farce a fun romp
In French with English subtitles, Jack Mimoun & The Secrets of Val Verde is in select cinemas nationwide.
Jack Mimoun & The Secrets of Val
(M, 105 mins) Directed by Malik Bentalha and Ludovic Colbeau-Justin Reviewed by James Croot *** ½
He’s “the man who survived hell” – and Jack Mimoun (Malik Bentalha) has wasted no time in milking his isolated tropical island experience for all it’s worth. His book is a best-seller, his “dangerfilled” television series is a hit and large crowds of adoring fans follow his every move, lapping up his mantra that “we all have an adventure within”.
Aurélie Diaz (Joséphine Japy), though, isn’t just after his autograph – she wants his expertise. To his horror, she tricks him into boarding a helicopter back to his former sand-filled “prison” – Val Verde.
Accompanied by his manager Bruno (Jérôme Commandeur) and maverick pilot Jean-Marc (François Damiens), Aurélie wants Jack to help her track down what her father tried to uncover when he disappeared – the loot of French pirate “Buzzard”.
It’s a task that will truly test Jack’s survival skills, Aurélie’s patience and Jean-Marc’s somewhat sketchy sanity, especially when they discover they’re not the only ones searching for Buzzard’s diamond-encrusted sword.
A Gallic cross between Romancing the Stone, Red Notice, Tropic Thunder and The Lost City (one that also feels like a liveaction version of the Spanish animated Tad film franchise), Jack Mimoun, like the 21st century Jean Dujardin-starring OS 117 spy movie parodies, works best as a broad comedy, sending up serial adventure traditional tropes and playing up the more preposterous scenarios and set-pieces.
To that end, Bentalha (who also co-directs and co-wrote the screenplay) actually plays third-fiddle, outshone by the outrageous John Goodman-in-The Big-Lebowskiesque Damiens (The Belier Family) and the charismatic Japy (Netflix’s recent Class Act).
It’s their scene-stealing antics (there’s a hilarious moment involving a lighter and a jaw-dropping stunt involving a less-thansolid bridge) that help lift the sometimes predictable action and inevitable doubledealing. Still, it all builds nicely towards a suitably farcical and fun-filled finale – one that, naturally, sets up a sequel.
Weekend | Entertainment