In 1995 Mathieu Kassovitz made a splash on the world cinema stage with La Haine, but his directorial career floundered with the curious (Crimson Rivers) and the disastrous (Gothika). Rebellion (L’Ordre et la Morale) sees a stunning return to form, with Kassovitz potentially delivering a career defining movie.
Rebellion follows the true-life uprising in the French colony of New Caledonia in 1988. The revolt saw a group of furious locals kidnap 30 gendarmes in an attempt to gain independence from France. Kassovitz takes the lead as Philippe Legorjus, a hostage negotiator sent to diffuse the situation. Legorjus and his men get more than they bargained for when they are caught between the rebel’s demands and political games from the politicians back on mainland France.
Kassovitz has clearly studied his ‘70s Hollywood cinema, as Rebellion feels like a blend of Dog Day Afternoon and Apocalypse Now. That may sound like a strange combination, but the director makes it work, creating a film that is tense, action-packed and emotional. Kassovitz is not just strong on atmosphere and visuals – he’s also a good lead actor, making the perfect everyman, out of his depth as the clock ticks down to the fateful resolution of the crisis.
Clocking in at over two hours, Rebellion could do with trim in the second act; while Kassovitz’s obvious obsession with helicopters could keep Freud busy for a year. However, minor flaws aside; it’s an assured film that almost makes up for Gothika. Almost.
In all seriousness, Rebellion is a great piece of cinema that can stand toe-to-toe with some of the great dramatic military films.