`The Professional returns!' screams the UK DVD sleeve for 22 Bullets aka L'Immortel in an attempt to pass this Luc Besson-produced Jean Reno-starring revenge thriller off as a sequel to his 1994 hit (and with a kidnapping subplot you can bet they'll try passing it off as another Taken Stateside), but it's more of a traditional gangster revenge thriller with a very different main character. Charley Mattei isn't a childlike hitman but a smart Marseille crime lord whose retirement is crudely shattered by an attempted hit that leaves him with 22 bullets in his body and a desire to return them with interest to his would-be assassins. After going to great pains to establish a multitude of suspects implying a whodunit element, it doesn't take him long to discover which of his childhood friends and cohorts is behind it so we can get down to the business of killing them off one by one inbetween the odd car chase, shootout and torture, all of which is handled with slick efficiency by veteran actor and sometime writer-director Richard Berry. It may be very loosely inspired by real gangster Jackey Le Mat and his 70s gang war but it's neither biopic nor a realistic depiction of the Marseille underworld and there's nothing new on offer, but as an undemanding star vehicle it works well and benefits from more than decent supporting turns from Kad Merad, Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Marina Fois.
Unfortunately Anchor Bay's UK DVD disappoints by cropping the image from its original 2.35:1 to 1.85:1 (and it's not a case of `unpicking' the masking to reveal more image on the top and bottom of the frame: from the widescreen extracts on the making of featurette included in the surprisingly decent extras package they've cropped off a lot of information from the left and right of frame). The English subtitled French DVD and Blu Ray, however, are in the correct ratio.