Lost Bullet (aka Balle Perdue) is a French action-thriller directed by first-time feature helmer Guillaume Pierret. Premiering on Netflix, it sits in a similar ballpark to the streamer’s underrated, 2017 vehicular crime-thriller Wheelman (my review of that one HERE). If you’re so inclined, Lost Bullet offers up more anti-heroes, double crosses and tumbling automobiles than you can shake a (gear?) stick at.
Lino (Alban Lenoir) is a genius mechanic, given a jail term for his part in a bungled jewellery store heist. He is taken under the wing of Detective Charas (Ramzy Bedia) and given leave from prison, provided he works for Charas’ police unit, who tackle crime at high velocity on the streets and highways of France. Lino’s role is to patch up and soup up the pursuit vehicles for their life on the road.
Unfortunately, things go pear shaped when one of the cops in the unit commits murder and hangs it on Lino, forcing him to go on the run and to try and locate a crucial piece of evidence that could clear his name.
Before we go any further, I should point out that I am most definitely not a ‘car person’. As far as this reviewer’s car knowledge is concerned, they have four wheels, they get you from A to B and… well, that’s about it actually. But that doesn’t matter, because Lost Bullet’s focus turns out to be more on trashing the cars, than showing them off.
Guillaume Pierre handles the action sequences nicely. A police station escape is well executed as Lino takes on an entire cop shop on his own. But where Lost Bullet really excels is out on the open road, with some incredible head on collisions and car wrecks, as criminals and cars alike get busted.
The automobile-heavy action is bound to draw comparisons to a certain car-based blockbuster franchise, but Lost Bullet has far more going for it than a simple riff on The French & The Furious. Instead, it draws its story inspiration firmly from crime fiction territory; plus, the action sequences read straight from the George Miller playbook. The camera hovers mere inches above the ground, to convey the sheer velocity and danger of pursuit. It’s a cinematic device pioneered by the Mad Max movies and subsequently used by any self-respecting action film.
The cast is good value and they make it all work. From Alban Lenoir, looking like a younger version of square-jawed genre stalwart, Brian Thompson, to the duplicitous cop pairing of Areski (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and Marco (Sébastien Lalanne). They’re not exactly deep, but you know precisely who they are. There’s some nice hard-boiled dialogue in there, too. As one cop explains his delay in dispatching an adversary: “He had a tough skull.”
Minor downsides are that it feels like there’s a fair bit more to Stéfi Celma’s tough cop, Julia, than we are allowed to see, and the pace does flag a bit in the middle. And, while this is a little hard to word without pointing out exactly the elements in question, some of the marketing does teeter on spoiler-ish – a few of the big action moments and a turn towards the end are far more enjoyable to experience fresh. So, perhaps avoid trailers, posters, etc, and just dive into this one.
Otherwise, there’s as many tumbling cars and jerry rigged mechanics going on as your average A-Team or MacGyver episode. As much as anything, Lost Bullet is taking its cues from ’80s action television, so if that sounds appealing, you’ll find a whole lot to enjoy here and should make sure Lost Bullet goes straight on your Watch List.
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★★★★✩
‘Lost Bullet’ is now available to watch on Netflix right HERE.