LOST BULLET 2 is, yes, the sequel to LOST BULLET (Balle Perdue), the excellent 2020 French action film which, if you haven’t seen it, is your current mission. It’s on Netflix, you’ll probly like it, go watch it. Then I think you’ll want to watch part 2 and then come back and read this.
Writer/director Guillaume Pierret returns and continues immediately from part 1, in which mechanic Lino (Alban Lenoir, BIG BUG) went to prison for crashing a car through a building in a robbery to get his brother out of debt, then was recruited to build souped-up cars for an elite police unit, but was framed by a corrupt cop and had to escape and take part in a high speed chase driving a car containing the ballistic evidence of his innocence. A couple minutes in I actually realized I had to pause and re-read my review to remember who the characters were and what had happened. It’s more complicated than I remembered.
Okay, so Areski (Nicolas Duvauchelle, TROUBLE EVERY DAY) was the one who set Lino up. Marco (Sebastien Lalanne, THE SQUAD) is a co-conspirator who killed his brother. Julia (Stefi Celma, also from THE SQUAD, as is most of this cast, actually) is his badass colleague on the go-fast team and girlfriend. Moss (Pascale Arbillot, MY DOG STUPID) is the other cop who figured out he was innocent. And Charas is not in this one because he died, but he’s Lino’s mentor who is constantly discussed.
At the beginning of part 2 Lino is hospitalized, but has cleared his name. Areski escaped, and they tell him Marco did too, when in fact Moss took him to a hideout to use as a witness to try to get Areski. Julia strongly objects but goes along with the lie because it’s her job.
Six months later Lino is still obsessed with catching Areski, which we know because he has a scraggly beard. He’s living in his car and following around Areski’s ex-wife Stella (Anne Serra). I like the scene where she approaches his car and very sympathetically tells him Areski’s not coming back and to please stop following her. (He does not.) There are on-duty cops surveilling her too, and they joke about Lino and having to deal with him all the time. There’s a funny scene where a cop backs down from plans to confront him after remembering that he took on ten cops in part 1’s all-timer police station fight.
When Areski’s men do come for Stella it is, of course, Lino who notices, not the beat cops. It’s a thrilling scene where he brutally breaks their arms and necks and I do believe kills all of them? Multiple improvised weapons are used, much furniture is ruined, a giant hole is busted through a wall, and then he just sits down on the couch and waits for Stella to come out of hiding. A year later he and Stella are a couple, and for a second that bothered me. #1, is this some kind of messed up fuckery trying to defeat your enemy by stealing his wife, and #2 what about Julia, dude? But then I realized I liked it because it makes for a more interesting dynamic with Julia as she often has to chase after him when he goes rogue. We like both of them even when they’re in opposition, and we root for them to get on the same page. Also both of them care about each other even while endangering each other in high speed chases.
New complications are added with another corrupt cop we learn was part of the drug dealing conspiracy. I don’t believe we ever see him, but he sends scary drug cop Yuri (Quentin D’Hainaut, JCVD’s stunt double in THE LAST MERCENARY) to do his bidding under the guise of official law enforcement business. There’s also the addition of Alvaro (Diego Martin, [REC] 3: GENESIS), a Spanish cop who knew Charas and is sort of competitive with Lino, wanting to bust Marco first. That’s important because when Lino discovers Marco is in police custody with an immunity deal he kidnaps him, puts him in a trunk and makes a run for the border to give him to Alvaro. Who, by the way, wears a brown leather jacket and does a cool slide down a hill and series of leaps holding a shotgun that seems like they might’ve been an homage to Rick Dalton’s scene in The F.B.I.
Much of the movie is a series of chases and battles with Lino’s own colleagues on the police force, who are trying to do this investigation as planned, and the corrupt ones who are trying to kill Marco before he squeals. It’s a lucky coincidence that Lino shows up to headquarters to abduct Marco at the same time Yuri and his guys come to “arrest” him. That leads to a great one-on-many fight where Lino once again punches his way out of pigpiles, but this time with the added dimension of having to repeatedly grab Marco and put him back in the trunk. Also Marco himself has to fight against the corrupt cops, at one point putting up a really good fight with his legs refusing to let them lock him into their car.
That’s the thing, this sounds kinda convoluted but it’s all to set up a ton of great action within a lean 98 minute body. Just like the first one it finds a perfect tone with the type of exaggerated badassness and mayhem I love in the FAST & FURIOUS series, but much more grounded so it feels like this guy (and he’s vehicles) are just barely still moving after taking all this damage.
Great moments in badassery: When Julia crashes and flips while chasing him, and he stops and looks back at her, but has to flee when more cars come up behind her. She comes to, groggily crawls out and, against the wishes of the other officers, takes one of their cars and continues the chase.
One of many great action set ups: when Julia has cuffed Lino and put her in his car but they get ambushed by Yuri so a panicked Marco steals the car with Lino in the back, and Lino repeatedly kicks him in the head and wraps his legs around him like Jiujitsu, trying to force him to crash. Man, there’s so much good shit in this one.
Sorry to pull the ol’ insulting-a-different-movie-to-compliment-this one maneuver, but it kept making me think about Michael Bay’s AMBULANCE, which has a similar type of car chase but shot and edited in such a disorienting and annoying style that it was a struggle to get involved in the chase that makes up almost the entirety of the movie, and I seriously contemplated leaving the theater. I really think I could’ve loved that one if it was the same story and performances but with this level of action clarity. That’s okay though, other people can have AMBULANCE, I’ll stick with these ones.
Lino builds a new baby this time, and the funny/ludicrous gimmick is the electrified spike attachments that can blast so much power that they cause cars to explode and fly into the air whistling like rockets. And I’m sure there’s gotta be some enhancement, but all the cars crashing and flipping and ripping apart in this look very much based in practical stuntwork to me, I don’t remember noticing any digital stuff. Stunt coordinator David Julienne goes back to doing stunts on the Luc Besson productions TAXI, YAMAKASI, KISS OF THE DRAGON, DISTRICT B13 and TAKEN, and he was coordinator for TAXI 5, THE TAKEDOWN and ATHENA. (That last one’s supposed to be good. I gotta see that soon.)
This is a great time and highly recommended after you’ve enjoyed the first film, absolutely living up to its action. But it does feel less satisfying in the end for the very simple reason that it’s a middle chapter. LOST BULLET 3 was built into the deal with Netflix and is due in 2024, and this feels like the ending of a chapter, not a full story. Honestly I kinda miss the days of, like, LETHAL WEAPON or DIE HARD sequels, when they had to start over and come up with a new premise and set of bad guys each time instead of treat movies like the world’s most slowly-released mini-series, but that’s fine. These are good too.
p.s. IMDb calls it LOST BULLET 2: BACK FOR MORE. And why not?