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  Wolf's Call, The Cheers, Big Ears
Year: 2019
Director: Antonin Baudry
Stars: François Civil, Omar Sy, Mathieu Kassovitz, Reda Kateb, Paula Beer, Alexis Michalik, Jean-Yves Berteloot, Damien Bonnard, Pierre Cevaer, Sébastien Libessart, Paul Granier, Etienne Guillou-Kervern, Guillaume Duhesme, Simon Thomas, Bastien Ughetto
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Chanteraide (François Civil) is a sonar operator better than many, thanks to his incredible sense of hearing which means he can detect precisely what he is listening to under the sea without needing to see it or even rely on electronic assistance. On a mission to the Gulf, off the coast of Syria, he is part of the crew backing up a reconnaissance mission on the land and they need to be certain they can be picked up at any time, in case their cover is blown. However, as the soldiers carry out their orders, back on the submarine there is a problem: the sonar is detecting a presence that not even Chanteraide can identify. There is an Iranian frigate nearby - could that be to do with this puzzle?

The Wolf's Call, or Le chant du loup as it was called in its native France, was one of that subset of military thrillers, the submarine movie, a genre that had gained a certain popularity from the nineteen-fifties onwards, but not so much that the market was flooded (pardon the pun) with them. This was France's entry into the style, and was, shall we say, not exactly wedded to realism as you might expect with a main character who essentially has a superpower at his disposal, though not one that allows him to go on the offensive, as his keen hearing was more a defensive ability, which if this is to be believed permits him to listen to the heartbeats of women he is having sex with, oddly.

He can do other things with it as well, its not merely an enhancement to rumpy-pumpy, but that is likely the scene that would linger in the memory once the credits had rolled. Well, almost, as early on his submarine gets out of difficulty with that frigate, which has dispatched a helicopter to check them out, by sending two crewmen up on top of the surfaced craft sporting an automatic machine gun and a rocket launcher. Quite why a submarine armed to the teeth had to do this, or surface at all, was not explained, but the two chaps up top somehow manage to hit the chopper with bullets and a missile, causing it to explode in mid-air. At least you knew where you stood after that.

Yes, The Wolf's Call was one of those movies, an action flick where the screenwriter - here the same as the director, Antonin Baudry making his debut - basically decided against doing too much research as to how this sort of scenario would play out in the real world, and winged it so he could eschew boring old factual accuracy and ramp up the tension instead. To do so, he created a drama where the existence of the planet was at stake (hey, aim high) thanks to imminent nuclear war, and the sole thing standing between us and complete annihilation would be our hero's ears (can ears stand? Anyway). The ones to blame, suggesting a second Cold War was already in progress in the twenty-first century, were the Russians, who according to this were getting up to all sorts of wickedness.

To the extent that halfway through this film they are trying to launch a nuclear missile at La Belle France, conveniently for the plot fired from halfway around the globe for the sake of the running time, since if they had done so from the Atlantic this would have been a far shorter effort. Now Chanteraide, or Socks as he is nicknamed because he, er, wore socks in the sub once (?!) and his fellow would be heroes (recognisable faces like Omar Sy and Mathieu Kassovitz) have to stop their own side's missile being fired in retaliation, for that would mean The End Of Civilisation As We Know It. And as he has recently acquired a girlfriend (the criminally underused Paula Beer), he has someone to live for, not that the rest of us don't, but it all slotted in narratively. You get the idea: this was very silly, but simply because it was daft did not preclude it from being diverting, indeed if you checked your brain at the door it was pretty amusing in its dunderheaded way. Maybe it was eighties action nostalgia speaking... Music by tomandandy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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