If imitation is indeed the most sincere form of flattery, then filmmaker Quentin Tarantino should be totally enamored with "The Fall of the American Empire."
The new film from Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand clearly borrows a lot of the elements that make Taratino's movies so interesting - rapid fire dialogue, a tangled crime tale, and stylized violence. And while "Empire" doesn't always hit the mark, there is enough here for fans of the genre to appreciate.
"Empire" tells the story of Jean-Claude (Vincent Leclerc), a young man with a degree in philosophy stuck in a dead in job as a delivery driver.
While on a delivery one day Jean-Claude stumbles into a robbery gone wrong, and makes off with two large bags of cash. His decision leaves him as a target not only by the local law enforcement, but from the criminal elements who want their money back.
With the help of a prostitute (Maripier Morin) and a just released from prison biker (Rémy Girard), Jean-Claude hatches a plan to make off with the money and avoid the grasps of the police and the people who want the money back.
"Empire" begins with a great scene set in a diner that is very reminiscent of the opening scene of "Pulp Fiction" - a highly entertaining exchange between Jean-Claude and his girlfriend he is in the process of breaking up with.
With that scene Arcand establishes that this isn't going to be your typical heist movie. Fortunately the heightened expectations in this opening moments are realized for the most part the rest of the way.
Leclerc does a good job of capturing Jean-Claude's arrogance, which begins to dissipate the deeper he gets entangled into trying to make off with the money. Morin is also good here, taking what is essentially the cliched 'Hooker with a heart of gold' role and adding a little more depth and nuance.
"Empire" does have a familiar feel, with the story kind of sticking in a familiar place in the middle third before revving back up with a fun final act, but that familiarity actually works here. Sure you've seen a lot of this before, but Arcand and the cast manage to give it a fresh and interesting spin.