Sentinelle

 

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Olga Kurylenko plays the world’s most beautiful 41-year-old French soldier on a mission of gratuitous retribution.

   
Sentinelle

Eye on the prize: Olga Kurylenko

 

You never can predict where Olga Kurylenko will turn up next. The Bond girl in Quantum of Solace, the Ukrainian-born beauty has partnered Tom Cruise in the post-apocalyptic Oblivion, Ben Affleck in Terrence Malick’s baffling and soporific To the Wonder, and Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Strikes Again. Recently, she starred in the Spanish comedy A Perfect Day, played the Soviet pianist Maria Yudina in Armando Iannucci's The Death of Stalin and was married to Stellan Skarsgård in Terry Gilliam’s ill-fated The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Here, she plays a French soldier who speaks Arabic and has an eye for the ladies. After sizing up a naked female officer in the locker room, she heads to a nightclub where she picks up a complete stranger for a random bit of lesbian sex. But when her ridiculously pretty sister (Marilyn Lima) comes undone at the hands of some Russian ne’er-do-wells, Klara (Kurylenko) embarks on a one-woman crusade against the Russkies.

 

The French filmmaker Julien Leclercq, who makes movies with titles like The Assault, The Informant and The Bouncer, directs by the numbers and keeps his camera in focus. He displays all the technical finesse and creative juices of a car designer. There are wonderful shots of Nice, Paris and Dubai, and particularly of Olga Kurylenko running around in her fatigues with an assault rifle perched on her clavicle. When she breaks into the compound of the oligarch Leonid Kadnikov (Michel Nabokoff), she does so by striding up in front of his villa with her Glock cocked. She doesn’t do subtlety.

 

‘Sentinelle’ is short for Opération Sentinelle, the military unit set up in the wake of the 2015 terrorist attacks on Paris. Initially, this all looked quite interesting, as the film featured a female combatant undergoing PTSD, who takes to securing illegal quantities of codeine on the street. Having served in Syria, Klara suffers from night terrors and day tremors and sees danger in every child with a knapsack and hooded figure glued to a mobile phone. And there’s her sexual predilection, although this seems merely tacked on to accommodate a bit of gratuitous sapphic nookie (rather than to explain any deep-seated misandry). Ultimately, then, Sentinelle has no greater interest than a Bruce Willis quickie, while even on those terms it is strangely unengaging. A re-write might have been a good idea. Still, it does beg the question where Olga Kurylenko might turn up next.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Olga Kurylenko, Marilyn Lima, Michel Nabokoff, Martin Swabey, Carole Weyers, Andrey Gorlenko, Gabriel Almaer, Maria Kovalev.

 

Dir Julien Leclercq, Pro Julien Leclercq and Julien Madon, Screenplay Julien Leclercq and Matthieu Serveau, Ph Brecht Goyvaerts, Ed Soline Guyonneau, Music Jean-Jacques Hertz and François Roy, Costumes Emmanuelle Youchnovski, Dialect coaches Olya Tsoraeva and Riad Asmar.

 

Labyrinthe Cinéma/Umedia-Netflix.

80 mins. France. 2020. Rel: 5 March 2021. Available on Netflix. Cert. 18.