Lindon plays Simon, a police officer who is sacked, and subsequently imprisoned, for a drink-driving incident that resulted in three dead bodies. Upon his release he attempts to reconnect with his colleague Franck (Gilles Lellouche) and wife Alice (Nadine Labaki), only to find himself back in a perilous situation, when his young son Théo (Max Baissette de Malglaive) is the only witness of a heinous crime, and therefore a target for the perpetrators. Without a licence and severely low in confidence, Simon takes the law into his own hands to keep his family out of danger.
Though unreservedly generic – particularly in the storytelling and the indistinctive narrative structure, Mea Culpa remains a picture that’s easy to indulge yourself in. Sometimes the tropes of the genre can be somewhat endearing and just what the doctor ordered – and Cavayé abides by such a notion with an affection of sorts. Nonetheless, the film is suffocated by the tedious filler that takes place between the bigger, exhilarating sequences. Essentially, this thriller consists of three of four captivating and enrapturing scenes, unrelenting in their intensity (one of which is reminiscent of the infamous velociraptor sequence in Jurassic Park), but with little going on between them.
What helps matters tremendously, is how efficient a leading man Lindon is. You invest in him wholeheartedly, as he has such a presence and authority. In that regard there’s a real comparison to made to Liam Neeson (helped by the similarities in the type of character being portrayed too), although the French actor has more vulnerability about his demeanour, playing this flawed antihero with a certain fragility. It’s only fair to mention the impressive performance by the young Max Baisette de Malgaive too, which is essential to this film working. Children’s performances can often be taken for granted, but when they’re good the entire picture benefits as a result, particularly when playing such a pivotal role.
Unfortunately, however, Cavayé does end proceedings on a somewhat cheesy, mawkish note, which detracts from much of the good that came before. Thankfully it’s not a lasting sentiment, as the one thing you are most likely to take away from this thriller, is that it’s actually rather good fun.