The Fall of the American Empire and the Fall of Crime Dramas (Movie Review)

The Fall of the American Empire Movie ReviewOne thing I don’t want to do in the movie theater is read. However, when you sit down to a Canadian french speaking film with english subtitles you’re kind of locked in. The Fall of the American Empire is a film that I was very much unfamiliar with, but was willing to give a shot. The film gives us a typical “what would you do with the money?” scenario involving a large sum of cash suddenly coming into the possession of our “Average Joe” protagonist. The premise is appealing due to its juxtaposing themes of morality and desire. The allure of money, and the power that comes with it, is a tale as old as time. Watching what money does to a character is fascinating. It’s like a car crash… you just can’t look away. The transformation of said character is something that an audience cannot help, but to be tuned into. I was very much along for the ride. I was on the edge of my seat while I nervously watched the protagonist dodge the law scene after scene. The possibility of being caught red-handed loomed around every corner. However, disappointment struck when I least expected it. Alright guys hurry up and grab a duffle bag of cash the review is coming!

The Fall of the American Empire Movie Review

The Fall of the American Empire is a comedy/crime film written and directed by Denys Arcand. Arcand is a Quebec native and academy award winner with his most notable work, as a writer, for films like The Barbarian Invasions and The Decline of the American Empire. The cast includes Alexandre Landry, Maripier Morin, Remy Girard, Louis Morissette, Maxim Roy, Pierre Curzi, Patrick Abellard, Anoulith Sintharaphone, Florence Longpre and many more. The film is produced by Arcand’s wife Denise Robert who was a producer on the film The Barbarian Invasions. I am a sucker for these types of films. The fact that this film features a whole cast of faces I have never seen before made the story feel even more real for my viewing experience. However, this film ends in a very unsatisfying way. It lacks a certain punch that comes with this type of crime film. I hear sirens! Pack up the cash and let’s go!

This film is enticing. It gives the real “edge of your seat” feeling, as I mentioned before. The the tension raises from scene to scene. I relate The Fall of the American Empire to the film 21 (2008), one of my favorite films. 21 has a similar feel to The Fall of the American Empire, with slight differences of course. Overall both films feature an “Average Joe” type character with immense intelligence who finds himself in a position where money could change his current situation for the better. Very relatable. However, this money is always acquired in a less than legal, and, dare I say “illegal”, sort of way. Pretty straight forward stuff. This creates risks and consequences that should build to a thrilling climax and somewhat compromising resolution. 21 (2008) is successful at this. There is tension, conflict, violence, loss, consequences, and eventually, redemption. 21 (2008) has a completeness to it with a runtime that is 4 minutes shy of The Fall of the American Empire, that clocks in at 2h 7minWith all of that said why does The Fall of the American Empire ultimately drag and feel less satisfying? Oh! Its the cops! Come on let’s go!

The Fall of the American Empire Movie Review

So why the disappointment? The film starts with our protagonist Pierre-Paul (Landry) speaking with his ex-girlfriend Linda (Longpre)  about intelligence and also how the existence of money has corrupted and continues to corrupt morally compromised people. Pierre-Paul sees himself as an intelligent and virtuous man who with a large sum of money would do good things with his wealth. This hypothetical gets put into play when on his courier route Pierre-Paul comes across two big sports bags full of money after a robbery gone wrong. Pierre-Paul immediately puts the bags in the back of his courier vehicle and narrowly escapes being caught by the police.

The beginning is good. In the first few scenes we see that Pierre-Paul is still corrupted by money, despite how he views himself. He spends his money frivolously, but ultimately comes back to his senses and starts to put a real plan into play about his new found fortune. Watching the sequences of Pierre-Paul casually seeking help from less than savory individuals about handling the money is juxtaposed to the violence of the criminals whom he stole the money from and the crooked behavior of law enforcement. The issue with this is that these two elements never mix. Our protagonist and his companions never come under any threat from the criminals attached to the money or the police looking to satisfy their own agendas. This a good film does not make. The film ultimately leaves you wanting a better ending. Well looks like we got away.

So overall I did enjoy watching this film. The story is pretty straight forward as I mentioned before, but is elevated due to the unique perspective of our protagonist. The other characters and the writing in the film is great! I love the interactions between characters and the line deliveries as a whole. The problem is the lack of consequences and the ending to the film. I do understand that the film is labeled as a comedy/crime film, but it should have been either been one or the other. In my opinion the film leans more towards being a crime thriller. There are comedic elements in the film. However, the subtlety of the humor brings levity to the film when necessary and never  overtakes the serious tone. The watering down of the consequences and ending to the film is a bit of a let down. As much as I did like The Fall of the American Empire for certain elements I can’t, in good faith, recommend this film. Catch this one on dvd or streaming when available.

The Fall of the American Empire Movie Review

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