Excited about Netflix's 'Rogue City' with Jean Reno? Rewind through the five best action flicks of his career
Over the years, Jean Reno has made a name for himself in gritty action and crime thrillers, sometimes playing hero but also villains. Here are his top films, the most recent to the oldest, which show what he can do with the right script and director
With French actor Jean Reno making an appearance in the upcoming 'Rogue City' on Netflix, we decided it would be the perfect time to take a look back at some of his best work in the action-crime genre. Over the years, Reno has made a name for himself in these gritty films, sometimes playing hero but also villains. In 'Rogue City', he plays Ange Leonetti, the new police chief in the city of Marseille, tasked with cleaning the city up. Reno's talents have been underutilized of late but 'Rogue City' director Olivier Marchal tapped into his experiences as a former cop who has worked for both the police and French intelligence in this film. So we can hopefully expect a return to form for Reno in this film. Here are his top films, the most recent to the oldest, which show what he can do with the right script and director.
Da 5 Bloods
Jean Reno plays the shady French businessman, Desroche, who agrees to help the Bloods smuggle the gold out of Vietnam once they retrieve it -- for 20% of the take. You see what Reno is capable of as he plays the sophisticated, classy antagonist who can reel off a mini-history lesson about the military past of America and France in Vietnam. But towards the end, he is reduced to a standard-issue villain with very little nuance. But it still stands out as the best action film (released in the US) with Reno recently, especially when compared to the dismal 'The Doorman' released this month.
The Crimson Rivers
In 'The Crimson Rivers', Reno plays a good cop. The film is about two detectives who investigate a series of grisly murders in and around an isolated university campus in a deep valley of the French Alps. Reno's Pierre Niemans is a well-known police investigator whose investigation into the brutal murder of the librarian also leads him to cross paths with a younger officer (Vincent Cassel), who is following up on a similar case. Writer and director Mathieu Kassovitz brought the story’s gory details (like dismemberment) to life and also paid attention to creating well-fleshed out characters that lifted it out of the garden-variety police procedural. Reno's character in particular was seen as the "moral locus" of the film.
Jean Reno played Vincent, a French gunman who befriends Robert De Niro's Sam, an American mercenary formerly associated with the CIA. If you have to watch one sequence from the film it should be the Paris car chase. Director John Frankenheimer especially wanted the friendship between Reno and De Niro's characters to ring true because he considered it pivotal to the story. So he wanted the actors to bond off-screen as well and that seems to have paid off. Since several team members in the international operation are found to be untrustworthy, there is something solid about the pairing of these two actors on-screen as partners who have each others' backs.
Even though he died in that spectacular helicopter blast in the film's climax, Jean Reno was a big part of making the first 'Mission Impossible' film a hit. As the first movie in what would become a Tom Cruise franchise, it had more of an 'ensemble cast' energy than the later sequels. Reno's character was that of an expert helicopter pilot, Franz Krieger, who helps Hunt infiltrate the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. But Hunt later realizes he is one (of many) who is double-crossing him and has no qualms in taking him down.
Leon: The Professional
The film that started it all. Jean Reno first came to the attention of US audiences because of this 1994 English-language French action-thriller film written and directed by Luc Besson. The film is best known for one of the oddest partnerships in the history of cinema. An orphaned 12-year-old Mathilda (Natalie Portman) and the professional hitman Léon, played by Reno. After Mathilda's family is murdered by the corrupt Drug Enforcement Administration agent Norman Stansfield (a maniacal Gary Oldman), Leon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship as they find a way to punish those who killed Mathilda's family. The film is still raising eyebrows for the deadly chemistry between Portman and Reno but the film narrowly escapes censure because it shows Mathilda developing a crush on Leon while Leon is shown to become more humanized from a cold, ruthless hitman turned sentimental protector, willing to die for Mathilda's revenge.
'Rogue City' premiers on Netflix on October 30.