'A storm in a teacup" is probably the proper word to sum up Restless (Sans Répit), a new French crime thriller. It's a story in which the main character gets involved in an unfortunate accident and causes trouble. Although a problem may seem minor initially, when trying to fix it, things escalate to the point of chaos. Like the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading (2008), which had a premise of fake blackmailing that turns into senseless murders, Restless is similar but has more action and thriller elements. While some may enjoy the action and tension these situations create, a lack of character development and predictable storyline makes movies like Restless less memorable than they should.
Restless is loosely based on the 2014 South Korean film A Hard Day by Kim Seong-hun, and directed by Régis Blondeau. It tells the story of Thomas (Franck Gastambide), a corrupt cop making his way to the funeral of his deceased mother when he gets involved in a horrific traffic accident, which prompts him to cover up his crime as quickly as possible. Although he is able to get away with the act at first, he soon starts receiving calls from a mysterious witness who threatens to reveal what he has done unless he obeys their commands.
The movie wastes no time setting up the premise, which kicks off with the shocking accident just a few minutes in, and is a hint to viewers that they're about to be taken for a wild ride. The thrills remain consistently entertaining despite some hiccups and logical flaws along the way. From the very start, Thomas makes a terrible decision that leads to many of the situations seen in the first 30 minutes, though viewers should turn off their logic in order to follow along. For example, there's a scene at the beginning where Thomas doesn't have his police ID and is stopped at a checkpoint. When the cop goes to check the trunk where Thomas is hiding something he doesn't want to be seen, he starts beating everyone up, but never faces any repercussions for his actions.
The story is built to engage Thomas in detective work where he's trying to solve a mystery but also get himself out of trouble. As the story progresses, we are supposed to be invested in his character and care about the situation he finds himself in. But the problem is that we're not given any background on him other than the fact that he is an unlikeable person and not the most honest. So, as problems arise for him, we don't feel the need to root for him or care about his fate. I think this angle could work better if the plot had set him up as a character that's worthy of redemption.
The cinematography and action sequences in Restless are good, but nothing memorable. Our protagonist does get into some fights and they're fun to watch, but they're not relevant to making this a good action movie. The blackmail situation in the story could also be made more thrilling by creating scenarios that place the main character in dire situations. But instead, we get to watch people run around doing silly things in the hope their own misdeeds won't be exposed. However, for the audience, watching a bad guy threaten another bad guy isn't all that fun or engaging.
In the end, Restless might be worth watching as a crime story told from the other side of the law, but it is not able to hide the flaws and plot holes that make it an average action thriller unlikely to exceed most people's expectations.
- Starring Franck Gastambide, Simon Abkarian and Michaël Abiteboul
- Directed by Régis Blondeau
- Now streaming on Netflix