MR 73 Review

The Film

Policemen are much unappreciated in our world. They deal, like social workers, with people in extremis, people at their most desperate and least reasonable. They are called in to manage the times that the rest of us screw up royally and are then lumbered with the responsibility for putting our lives back together. And what is their reward for this? The shitty end of the stick from people who have lost all right to moral authority - drunks spitting and kicking, the constant spectacle of broken human beings and social disaster. As you can guess, their job is one I would never want to do.
Olivier Marchal used to be a cop. His films speak of the sheer crappiness that decent policemen have to cope with. He relives their traumas, and builds muscular eulogies to these men's bruised nobility. With MR 73, he again chooses to use Daniel Auteuil as the model for his sympathy as he did previously in 36. Auteuil is an alcoholic shell of a once proud man, someone in whom the world of ambition and compromise has crushed all but a single kernel of decency - the conviction that bad men should be punished and the innocent protected.

Auteuil has it bad. Stitch-ups, corruption, and the paralysis of his beloved wife. His flaws as a man have been widened by his mistakes in life, and now every day is a gradual descent into alcoholic anaesthesia. The actor plays him very much like a sleazy Lino Ventura from classic French thrillers like Classe tous risques, except for the fact that the material and the story here are of a much lower standard. For all that Auteuil captures the emotions with desperate eyes and internal struggle, he is undone by the sledgehammer subtlety and obvious cliche of the writer-director Marchal.
I know many are fond of drinking games when watching films and I propose one for when you watch MR 73. For every time the leading man swigs from a brown paper bag or he manages to convince someone else to do something breathtakingly stupid, you should have a drink yourself. In the two hours you spend with the film I can guarantee that you will be quite sloshed and in need of a new liver if you follow my suggested rules. To say that Marchal's twin ploys of unbelievable procedural twists and sad drunk manipulations are over used is to under-emphasise just how awful and facile the writing is.

This was the same problem that I had with 36 - that there was no real human insight or competency in plotting, and Marchal has not got any better on either score. Worse still he attempts a level of poetic symbolism in the film's climax that equates new life and death and attempts to be poignant when it is little more than macho posturing. Marchal's women are still poorly written as reflections of the lead or as off the peg descriptions like pretty girl in peril, and for all of his bluster and power his films remain knuckleheaded.
And I realise that I am being harsh as this is basically entertaining and MR 73 is a supreme piece of cinematography with some sparkling rhythm and editing. Marchal uses a terrific cast competently and for all its black and white morality, the action and the drama is well enough done. It is though very very dumb, very very macho and borderline nonsensical in the motivations of the characters - do pregnant women at fear of harassment live in the middle of nowhere and take the washing in in pitch darkness, do serial killing murderers kill cellmates and still get parole?

MR 73 is perfectly entertaining and a decent waste of your time, but it is quite dumb.

Technical Specs

Presented at 2.35:1, the original aspect ratio, MR 73 is a dark moody looking film which is frequently de-saturated. The transfer here carries mild grain, natural edges and boasts very natural flesh tones. The black levels are excellent and detail is impressive, this looks very nice and allows you to enjoy the super work of cinematographer Denis Rouden.
Stereo and 5.1 mixes are offered as options for audio with good strong optional English subtitles. Both options have good bitrates and the audio itself manages to capture setting well whilst keeping dialogue clear. The extra channels of the 5.1 mix add more to the moments of action with well placed effects, strong bass and more punch to the music.

Extra features

The disc is dual layer and region two locked and only offers a trailer as an extra. The menu design is static with basic options offered and no music to accompany the poster art.


If you like 36, then you will enjoy this too. This is a basic release from Optimum but a very good transfer.

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