Car chase movies are abominations but during lockdown, spurred by ancient memories of “Drive” and recent memories of “Ford v Ferrari,” I was drawn into the promised energy of “Lost Bullet.” Debut filmmaker Guillaume Pierret has fashioned a simple but powerful story around the character of super-mechanic, super-driver Lino, furloughed from jail to help a special team of road cops chasing drug-carrying “go fast” cars. As the trailer foreshadows, treachery unwinds Lino’s life and he must find a car with exonerating evidence, the lost bullet of the title, before the bad guys kill him. All well and good, and precisely the reason I picked up this film. Pierret has fashioned a tight (if occasionally silly) script full of car races, battles, loves and losses, and the chase scenes themselves are brilliantly choreographed, building up tension towards a finale car chase scene. The dampening trouble with “Lost Bullet” is the actor playing Lino, stuntman Alban Renoir, who looks suitably “low-level crim” but can sustain few emotions, not even fear or triumph. Rooting for him as the hero simply never took hold of me, and while I can recommend this movie as a frenetic time-filler, it ends as empty of life as it began.
I have not read anything like “The Strange Book of Jacob Joyce” in years. An eloquent, propulsive novel that can seem like a thriller one moment but fantasy-horror the next, it held me in thrall. No plot spoilers from me: we travel with Jacob Boyce, a geologist obsessed with a painting, obsessed to the point of measuring each millimeter of the canvas, even as his own married life heads towards disaster. Scotland, then Spain, all beautifully observed … backed by rapier-sharp dialogue and a memorable cast of minor characters. And the descriptions of paintings – wow! If The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce were optioned for a movie, it would surely have to be by Christopher Nolan, so deviously twisty and immersive is the plot, so evocative the penmanship. Wonderful, wonderful.
A mystery set in rambunctious East Texas, “Beneath the Surface” is the second outing for Detective Sam Lawson, a can-do, smart, but volatile policeman. Assigned out of town to track down the missing daughter of his ex-boss (and enemy), Lawson discovers a stew of potential suspects, including businesspeople and local identities. The author unfurls the action and clues deftly, the style is unobtrusive, the dialogue sounds right, and Hawkins County springs to life. “Beneath the Surface” is stock standard genre fodder and all the better for it, a swift, pleasing read.