By: Anthony Francis
Released in its native Quebec in 2016, the Action film “Nitro Rush” has made its way to the United States.
Director Alain Desrochers’ sequel to his 2007 film “Nitro” is nothing new but exists as a fun Action film that moves fast and hard.
While in prison, Max (Guillaume Lemay- Thimierge, resembling Nic Cage from “Con Air” in the opening scenes) learns that his 17-year-old son Theo (Antoine Desrochers, son of the director) is working with some dangerous drug/dealing criminals who want to steal the recipe from the chemists who have created a designer drug called Nitro Rush. (We have a title!)
As one character puts it, the drug has “a hit like cocaine only better and more intense and it lasts longer…. the drug that strips away all inhibitions… lethal illusion.”
Working with the authorities who want to stop the manufacturing and distribution of the drug, Max uses their trust to break out of prison and lives on borrowed time as he sets out in the hopes of saving his son, who has gone all-in with a life of crime.
The prison break sequence is fantastic and blasts across the screen like a thunderbolt of excitement.
Director Desrochers thankfully steers clear of the modern shaky-cam style and follows Max down the halls of the prison, hostage in hand, using steady tracking shots, cutting only when he needs to. The breakout sequence plays very well and is perfectly choreographed with an amazing moment where Max jumps through a small window that does not seem like a person could fit through. It is the kind of “on the fly” stunt that is creative and keeps the moment alive.
Madeline Prloquim is Daphne, the sultry brains of the operation who has Max’s Don Theo under her spell.
Daphne also forces Max to work with them using his son as the worm on the hook. Of course, her motives are sinister and Max knows it but he agrees so he can be near Theo.
With Max on board, the crew trains for their gig of taking on the chemists. There is even a short training montage! But make no mistake, these chemists aren’t nerdy dweebs in lab coats. These guys are brutal and violent and will come for their property with a vengeance.
What follows is a high-octane Action film of gun play, hand to hand combat, and car stunts, all done practically and with only the slightest use of CGI. In an exciting scene where Max takes Theo in a car and drives at top speeds around a course spinning, screeching, and stopping just in the nick of time, the moment recalls a couple of moments from Walter Hill’s car stunt classic “The Driver”.
Desrochers brings together many Action sub genres and does so very well. We get a prison film, a precisely plotted heist film, a lone antihero Thriller, and a car chase film.
Martin Gerard’s screenplay walks familiar ground but tips it’s hat to many films in the Action genre (there are bits of Walter Hill’s films, some John McTiernan, nods to more than a few “Men on a Mission” films, and one fantastic homage to George Miller) and director Desrochers follows through, creating the kind of action moments that Hollywood used to know how to do.
A car chase with two machine gun carrying men on all-terrain vehicles is quite exciting and the final hand to hand battle is brutal fun and is perfectly executed.
This is a film that almost taunts modern Hollywood Action filmmakers such as Michael Bay and Simon West to try and do something as exciting with their astronomical budgets.
Desrochers probably had a third of the budget that Bay usually works with but proved he knows how to make his action scenes pop! The director is smart enough to know he does not need to swirl his camera all around to the point of confusion.
Something MTV-influenced directors such as Michael Bay will never understand is that the camera needs to hold on the action. We paid our money, and it would be nice to be able to make both heads and tails of every scene in an Action film.
Desrochers knows how to frame his action. We can tell he learned something from the films and filmmakers of the 70s and 80s.
“Nitro Rush” flies by at a crisp 97 minutes. It is a modern Action film where the action moments are clever and thrilling. A popcorn-chomping good time for fans of the genre and quite a welcome surprise.