‘Restless’ Review: A By The Numbers Action Thriller That Is Best to Avoid

'Restless' Review

Making action movies is really, really hard. You need a team of expert filmmakers behind and in front of the cameras. You can say that everybody needs to start somewhere, and that would be true. However, that first effort isn’t always the best. Especially not the best to put on screen for everybody to watch. This is the case of Restless, a French action thriller that tries to be as intense and frenetic as possible, but only ends up being ridiculous and forgettable. 

Restless is the directorial debut of Régis Blondeau, who until now has only been used to work as a cinematographer in a number of French comedies. The film stars Franck Gastambide, Jemina West, Tracy Gotoas and Michaël Abiteboul. The film tells the story of Thomas, a corrupt cop who, after running someone over on the highway, tries to cover up his crime. Only to later find out that there was a witness to the crime, and it wants to take advantage of him. 

Restless might not put this information up front, but the movie is actually a remake of a very solid and entertaining South Korean film called “A Hard Day”. The French remake follows the plot of the original point by point and doesn’t offer anything original to the story or the execution.

'Restless' Review

So, if the movie is an almost exact remake of the South Korean original, then why is that one good and this one bad? Well, it is all about the execution. Film execution is all about how to shoot and how you present things on camera. In this case, while the original has the energy and inventiveness of something that is being created for the first time. Something that is being discovered by its creators while filming, the French remake doesn’t have any sort of energy at all. It only has the mood of someone being told what to do, and we all know how that feels. 

Restless is content with following what the original did, step by step. This kind of execution means there is no discovery, there is no excitement to be put on screen, and that is exactly how it feels to watch. Restless is boring and makes the exciting sequences from the original feel ridiculous and dumb.

Blondeau has zero experience as an action director, and it shows, as his choices are mostly the ones that true action directors try to avoid in modern cinema. We are talking about excessive use of coverage to find the movie in the editing room, poor framing of the action, making it hard to follow, and of course, the worst offender, too much cutting during the action sequences. 

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We are talking about Taken 3 levels of bad editing in this movie. In today’s action environment, this kind of filmmaking in an action movie is just way below the standard and makes the movie and the teams behind it look bad. For example, Netflix’s own, Extraction, knew what it needed to do in order to stay relevant within the action film landscape. Restless, on the other hand, seemed to have done no research at all. 

The original South Korean film isn’t an action film in the strict sense of the word, but it is very well shot, and the action bits are understandable and easy to follow. The original was more suspenseful than anything else, thanks to director Kim Seong-hun’s ability to keep the plot moving at a natural pace and combine the film’s outrageous events with a humorist tone that made everything more palatable. Restless, on the other hand, forgets about this sense of humor and takes itself way too seriously. 

On top of this, the performances also fall flat in front of the original and also in comparison with other films of the genre. Gastambide doesn’t know how to present his unlikable characters in any other light, thus making everything that happens to him, something he had coming. There’s no sense of pity or worry that the character can incite in the audience. He is clearly a bad person and deserves everything that happens to him. It is hard to care about what happens in a film when the main character isn’t likable or even interesting in any way.

The rest of the cast doesn’t do any better; they are all on autopilot waiting for the film to end, and the director doesn’t know how to present these supporting characters in any other way but as disposable. 

Restless tried in vain to take the original blueprint from a fantastic action thriller, pump even more action to it and call it a day, without understanding what made the original good in the first place. Restless better be avoided as there are many other good offerings out there if what you are looking for are action and thrills. 

SCORE: 3/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.