In a time when the constitution and principals the United States were founded on are trampled underfoot by an administration desperate to distract attention from its own internal problems, where the Geneva Convention, human rights and foreign sovereignty are unapologetically discarded, a thriller about the state taking illegal action that far exceeds that of the terrorists they are countering might seem appropriate. However, if you want to see a film about that, try Ed Zwick's flawed THE SIEGE instead, because NADA is one of the most infantile 'political' thrillers ever made. Like Robert Altman's PRET-A-PORTER, the director has taken on a subject he seems completely ignorant of, and imprints his ignorance on almost every frame.
His terrorists are a wildly unconvincing group of stereotypes - Fabio Testi dresses as if he were auditioning for MAD Magazine's 'Spy vs. Spy' strip, Michel Duchaussoy behaves like an absurd KIDS IN THE HALL send up of the sociology professor from Hell, Mariangela Melato a cardboard middle-class revolutionary wannabe - who behave at every unconvincing plot turn as if they want to be caught. The corrupt authorities fare a little better, but are still painted in unconvincingly broad strokes.
It is possible to make a smart film about dumb people (cf ELECTION), but this is a moronic film about dumb people made by people who think they're intellectuals who are talking down to the masses. In truth, were one to recast Testi, Duchaussoy and Melato with Jim Varney, Johnny Knoxville and Shannon Tweed, the result would actually be to raise the intellectual content of the film, not lower it.
Chabrol might just have got away with his characters and events if he took them seriously, but his staging is so inept (the fight scenes would embarrass a kindergarten class while the shooting of the kidnapping is more inept than the kidnapping itself) and his inability to get his cast to perform with at least some approximation of recognisable human behaviour so blatant that it is actually embarrassing to watch (special mention must be made here of Duchaussoy: so very good in Chabrol's QUE LA BETE MUERE, he is stunningly bad here in a performance that is so far over the top it's back again).
Chabrol has made some fine films, but you would never guess it from this amateurish mess - a newcomer to his work would never want to see another of his films after this, which would be a great shame. Utter drivel, and a sad waste of a potentially interesting material. One star out of ten - and that's being very generous.
The DVD is the cut reissue version (27 minutes shorter), although this is no great loss, so it's hard to feel aggrieved by the fact. Ironically, as the worst title in Pathfinder's Chabrol collection, this boasts one of the best transfers: still not perfect, but a lot better than the poor standards conversions from PAL to NTSC on the likes of LA FEMME INFIDELE and LE BOUCHER - Chabrol films well worth seeing.