Film Review: The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch

There’s so much plot and so many locations in this international finance-steeped thriller that it’s one very exhausting but ultimately satisfying rollercoaster.

International thrillers don’t come more international than The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch, which has its orphaned hero, Largo (Tomer Sisley), traversing the globe from Croatia to Paris to Hong Kong to Brazil. As the sole heir of tycoon Nerio Winch (Miki Manojlovic), who adopted him as a baby from a crowded orphanage, Largo finds himself caught up in a web of murderous financial intrigue when Papa dies. Largo now must desperately protect his $20 billion inheritance from the greedy machinations of a corporate board of directors, controlled by the ruthlessly efficient Ann Ferguson (Kristin Scott Thomas).

There are so many flashbacks and flash-forwards here that to recount the full plot would take nearly as long as this movie’s running time, but, suffice to say, it almost makes the storyline of The Big Sleep a Simple Simon affair, not to mention Beat the Devil or even Verdi’s notoriously intricate opera Il Trovatore (which also has a two-baby device). Co-writer/director Jérôme Salle has a definite talent for keeping things moving briskly so you never have to ponder anything for too long, while giving full due, with the aid of Denis Rouden’s exhilarating camerawork, to the multitude of locations, characters, chase scenes and boardroom shenanigans. Based on a Belgian comic-book series, it’s a thriller with a mind, however overstuffed that mind may be with financial jargon and recriminations of the past. It’s action fluff with a gratifying overlay of socioeconomic significance, as well as some deeper, familial stirrings, and, as such, pretty damned good entertainment.

Sisley, although buff and fully up to the physical challenges of his role, is a somewhat puzzling hero. Is that bemused expression he wears throughout meant to be ironically charming or is it just his histrionic limitation; in other words, is he Sean Connery or Jean Claude Van Damme? Whatever, it seems to work, and that air of detachment definitely makes this overwrought film seem less pulpy/cornball than it could be. Scott Thomas plays her role ably, but by this time, isn’t she a little tired of being the sleekly perfect, intimidating corporate matron, clicking along corridors in her sexy high heels and impeccable bespoke? (Maybe that’s what accounts for the unflattering blonde Louise Brooks wig she wears here, perhaps in an effort to change things up a bit.)

As Lea, Largo’s enigmatic love interest, Melanie Thierry is luscious, with a blessedly puckish sense of humor. Big, blond hunk Steven Waddington appears as a villain, and you’ve got to wonder why he’s never quite made the grade as a movie leading man, being so much more attractive than most of the heroes he plays against. Manojlovic has the weathered weariness of a king out of Greek mythology, and there’s an assortment of heavies, both in the boardroom and out (headed by Benedict Wong), the most malevolent of which share terrible complexions. (With all their money, haven’t they heard of dermabrasion?)