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Rabid Dogs, directed by Eric Hannezo is a French-Canadian remake of the 1974 Italian film of the same name. It’s a competent, stylish, by-the-numbers crime thriller that completely falls apart in the final stretch.
Four bank robbers are on the run from the police after their heist takes a turn for the worst. They are forced to take hostages – a young woman (Virginie Ledoyen) and a father on the way to the hospital with his sick child. With a country-wide manhunt underway, the robbers grow increasingly desperate, leaving a trail of death and devastation while trying to escape.
What Rabid Dogs lacks in character depth and plot originality, it tries and mostly succeeds to make up for with style. The cinematography has a certain flair to it that makes the movie at least somewhat interesting visually. There are some odd and even obnoxious moments, like the movie’s overuse of red lighting and its insistence on displaying unnecessary, intrusive time stamps, but for the most part, Rabid Dogs manages to carve out a visual style that can be best described as ‘not boring’.
Virginie Ledoyen gets the short end of the stick when it comes to character development, which is scarce enough as is in Rabid Dogs. The movie feels the need to introduce her character by showing her in lingerie, which has nothing to do with anything and can actually be misleading – she seemed like some kind of criminal mastermind because of the way the introduction was shot and was taken aback when it turned out she was a hostage.
The robbers themselves are one-dimensional and it takes a while before you start to realize they’re basically the antagonists. They’re not particularly intimidating or memorable and the occasional flashback sequences that are meant to establish their backstories are more confusing than helpful. One of them dies early on and leaves so little of an impression that one has to wonder why he was even in the movie to begin with.
Had the movie stuck to the generic with regards to its plot, its visual sensibilities might have made it a passable crime thriller. Unfortunately, the ending is so stupid and underwhelming that it drags the whole movie down with it. Worst being the actual twist that could have been very effective, but it’s so poorly executed that it feels like an insulting slap to the face.
The score is also odd and out of place. I lack the musical vernacular and expertise to properly explain it, but basically, it’s just a little too groovy for the gritty tone that the movie was going for. It never quite meshed and was even distracting at times.
Rabid Dogs is a below average if visually interesting crime thriller, undermined by thinly written characters and a poorly executed twist ending.
Metrodome will release Rabid Dogs on DVD on August 22, 2016.