Bland, derivative, and unoriginal…but in French!
The Wolf’s Call proclaims to be a submarine action thriller movie that is currently streaming on Netflix. It is streaming on Netflix; it does involve a submarine, but thrilling – it is not.
The nearly 2-hour mental endurance test film is written and directed by an engineer, turned diplomat, turned screen writer/graphic novelist, and stars a cavalcade of actors unknown to non-Francophiles. The ‘plot’ involves an unknown submarine, Russian aggression, the threat of nuclear war and a naval officer with the ability to hear akin to a bloodhound’s sense of smell. Don’t worry though, his character isn’t one dimensional because he has depression.
Its Daredevil meets The Hunt for Red October except worse, much worse.
The first 20 minutes of the film takes place within the submarine of our protagonists – Titan or Le Titane if you’re a stickler for those things (pro-tip: if you want to die on that hill, don’t do it for this). All the tropes of your classic nautical vessel under the sea movie are there. The sweaty men staring intently, the dim, scarlet lighting, prolonged silences interrupted by the anxiety inducing sonar bleeps of the unknown enemy nearby. It’s all supposed to be very dramatic and extremely riveting as the tension becomes unbearable.
Except there is no tension. When you’re ripping-off every other part of your film, you’re probably ripping-off the part where the good guys survived too.
It’s a problem that plagues the movie. Everything about it is so predictable, including the third act twist. Not the twist itself but its existence.
If The Wolf’s Call were a pure action film that was 2 hours of guns, guts and good one-liners, it’d still be repetitive but at least something in it would be interesting. Think White House Down but in France: not great but good lazy watching. Instead, it tries to blend the action (or lack of it) with faux-suspense and pseudo-intellectualism. It’s Tom Clancy fanfiction but for people who have a graduate degree in military history - which is an audience of approximately three people.
The cast cover themselves honourably, and the use of sound, lights and quick cuts are all what you expect in an action-thriller so they are all executed well enough.
But None of that matters because it’s just so boring. There are no stakes because the characters aren’t interesting enough. The romantic subplot feels like it is in the film because the screenwriter was told that good movies have romantic subplots. It’s not organic and feels like a weird interlude that’s there to break up the suspense rather than develop the main character in anyway. Some of the character’s decisions are quite bizarre and extreme, while our villains have no purpose and no obvious motivations besides ‘world domination’ and ‘wanting everyone to die’.
If you want an action movie – there are better action movies, if you want a thriller – there are better thrillers, if you’re into submarines – there are better submarine movies.
The Wolf’s Call proves that foreign films are just like Hollywood ones, they can’t all be good.