out of Five
Running time: 124
Blueberry has the occasional visual flourish and some unsettling visual effects but ultimately it’s confusing, badly acted and rather dull.
In 1997, director Jan Kounen and actor Vincent Cassel made cartoonishly
violent thriller Dobermann, which went on to become something of a minor cult movie.
Kounen’s latest film is based on the Blueberry comic strips by French artist Moebius (Jean Giraud). Not only is it shot in English, it also features a bizarrely eclectic cast, as well as reuniting Kounen with leading man Cassel. However, though visually impressive in places, the overall result is an unholy mess, punctuated with some truly dire performances.
Seemingly Simple Plot
On the face of it, the plot seems pretty simple. As a young man, Lieutenant Blueberry (Hugh O’Connor) rides into a town in the Wild West and almost immediately gets into a gunfight with crazed cowboy Wally Blount (Michael Madsen in full-on EVIL mode), a gunfight that results in the death of the whore that Blueberry has fallen in love with.
Several years later, a still haunted Blueberry (now played by Vincent Cassel) comes up against Blount again as Blount is dementedly seeking some buried treasure. However things start to go a bit weird with the introduction of peyote-inspired fantasy sequences and frankly, by the end, it’s anyone’s guess what’s going on.
It would be more accurate to describe the film as a ‘supernatural fantasy western’, since it rapidly becomes apparent that the film isn’t a typical white hat vs. black hat horse opera. Unfortunately the film is just too messy to really engage the audience – it veers off on several tangents and drags considerably as a result.
The film does come alive, sort of, towards the end, but not in a good way: through the “miracle” of special effects, the walls and various objects all turn into crawling, mechanical insects. Or something.
Performances Mostly Bad
Bizarre CGI Insect FX aside, the performances are mostly bad. Cassel struggles with a Texan accent and everyone else just seems confused. The worst offender, however, is Eddie Izzard. You would think that his long list of bad reviews would have persuaded him to give up screen acting, but no, here he is again, mangling every line and mugging for the camera like a seasoned amateur.
There are a couple of highlights, for instance, Juliette Lewis singing
‘Danny Boy’ and sharing screentime with her father, Geoffrey Lewis. Colm Meany is also good value and Evil Madsen is always worth watching, but in the end, this isn’t really enough to save the film.
In short, Blueberry has a certain amount of curiosity value but it’s about as much fun as watching someone else take peyote.