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Family, The

5/10

Stars: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, John D’Leo, Tommy Lee Jones, Jimmy Palumbo, Domenick Lombardozzi

Director: Luc Besson

French director Luc Besson (who abandoned his potential auteur status by becoming involved with English-language box-office-aimed movies like The Transporter thrillers and Taken) does a serviceable job with this moderately entertaining black comedy-thriller co-scripted by Besson and The Sopranos writer Michael Calco (from Tonino Benacquista’s novel ‘Malavita’).

Mafia mobster Robert De Niro turns snitch and triggers off violent vengeance from the betrayed made men. After a murderous home invasion, the Witness Protection Programme relocates him and his family to a small village in France with agent Tommy Lee Jones as their guardian angel. De Niro, his wife Michelle Pfeiffer and their two children – 17-year-old daughter Dianna Agron and 14-year-old would be Mafioso John D’Leo - dislike the new neighbourhood.

After suggesting De Niro will take a mere 24 hours to eliminate all the rodents infesting their new house, Pfeiffer blows up the local grocery because of its unhelpful staff, an action that makes it hard to suppress a small cheer given the basic cheerlessness of the French village on display.

But, as they slowly start to adapt to their new environment, the Mob sets out to dispose of De Niro who is apparently worth $20,000,000 dead…

Besson’s attempts to blend all-out nastiness and bloody violence with black humour are not always successful, resulting in a lumpy affair that oscillates between jokey sequences and hard-edged bloodletting, leaving the cast to struggle to sustain their on-screen characters, sometimes against the odds.

Pfeiffer and Jones come off best and it’s good to see (after painfully unfunny embarrassments like his appearances in the 'Fockers’ films) De Niro, bearded and bear-like, slowly beginning to grasp the basics of comic acting in this bearable, and easily forgettable popcorn picture.

Alan Frank

USA/France 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour.
111 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 20 Nov 2013