‘Medellín’ Review: The French Travel to Colombia in a Disastrous Adventure

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The works of Franck Gastambide have a certain look and taste. The actor, writer, and director tend to go for movies that lean more on action, drama, and comedy as vital elements of their narratives. Medellín, his new film as director, places him in a narrative that is basically the mixture of all the previous things we have seen him do. This a movie that simultaneously tries to be comedic, dramatic, and action-oriented. Does it work? Not really, but at least Gastambide and his team dared to take the swim and release it on Amazon Prime.

Medellín is a film directed by Franck Gastambide and written by him with the help of Charles Van Tieghem. The film stars Franck Gastambide himself in one of the main roles, alongside; Ramzy Bedia, Anouar Toubali, Brahim Bouhlel, and Essined Aponte. The film tells the story of Reda, a big, tough guy living in Paris’s toughest neighborhood. One day, his younger brother, dressed as Pablo Escobar, gets kidnapped while traveling in Colombia. And so, Reda recruits his two best friends and flies to Colombia to rescue the troublesome TikToker.

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Medellín is a bad film; there is no question about it. However, I don’t believe it is a bad film because it fails at trying to be a movie. The production certainly had enough money to cover several action sequences, some solid visual effects, stunt teams, etc. It doesn’t fail at looking like a film, either. To be honest, the visuals are pretty bad, but it doesn’t look worse than half the stuff that is released on Netflix. So, what is the thing that makes this a bad movie? I believe this movie fails at being a story that can be taken seriously, and it is because of this that it is not good.

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How so? Isn’t this an action comedy film? Is comedy supposed to be taken seriously? To that, I answer that only when comedy is serious that it is true comedy. The only comedy that endures time and place has truth in it. Without this truth, there is no meaning behind it, and the brain soon forgets anything that has no meaning. So, yes, comedy can be serious, and because it takes itself seriously, that is the reason it makes you laugh. It is hard to laugh at things that don’t exist. Medellín’s story feels very artificial, and by the numbers, so when it tries to be a comedy, it fails.

The same goes when the movie tries to pull off dramatic moments. The movie tries very hard to be about family, honor, and what we are willing to do for those we love. That sounds very good on paper, and movie dealings with those subjects are quite powerful. However, the artificiality of the story makes caring for the characters and their interactions impossible. At many points during the movie, we get to have moments where the company of friends realizes how much they mean to each other, but the moment has no resonance outside the idea of the scene because the execution of it just doesn’t work.

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The action sequences suffer from the same failure. The movie has a couple of moments where the gore of the scene becomes very explicit. At moments we will see torn limbs, heads exploding, and so much more, but again, there is no weight to any of it. These images of violence, these gallons of blood, don’t mean anything. They are in the movie because that is what you are supposed to have in a movie with action scenes, but the scenes themselves are there just for action’s sake instead of propelling the characters to the next level of their development.

The writing is the core of everything that is wrong with the movie. You can see that the shooting was probably very fun, but it would be great if the fun could also be printed onto the movie. As it is, the film feels like just a collection of scenes put together. There is a through line that connects them, but the progression feels scattered, and for a movie that is so short, it is easy to get bored near the 30-minute mark. The movie just doesn’t have enough material to make it a film filled with substance; instead, there is just a lot of air everywhere.

The visual design and the film’s technical achievements might be the best thing, yet there is nothing here worth discussing. At least it is watchable, and it sounds good. The movie does the bare minimum to alleviate the audience’s experience when watching it. It is harsh to talk about a movie like this, I know. But really, it is hard to find something to talk about regarding this movie. Everything is just so empty and boring. The visual effect work is solid, but there are a couple of moments where the chroma key is way too noticeable and breaks the little immersion you could have.

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Medellín tries, and it really does, but the writing at the core of the film just doesn’t manage to execute the ideas. The movie tries to go for depth, action, and fun together and ends up doing none of them, at least not well or in a way that could feel memorable. Just wait a couple more days for Extraction 2 if you want to see at least a movie with some nice action in it.

SCORE: 3/10

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