With its normal-guy-caught-up-in-an-underworld mess plot, The World Is Yours invites obvious comparisons to Guy Ritchie classics like Snatch and Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, but I think it might be better. French filmmaker Romain Gavras directs the story of Francois (Karim Leklou), a Moroccan-French drug dealer who has essentially been born to a life of crime thanks to his overbearing, Machiavellian con artist Mom, played by Isabelle Adjani, a hilarious criminal take on the immigrant helicopter mom.
Francois’ big dream is to eventually go straight and become the exclusive Mr. Freeze popsicle distributor to Morocco, but he discovers that his mom has gambled away his seed capital, and worse, his boss in the drug game has gone to jail, leaving him stuck working under an unhinged psychopath who calls himself Putin alongside two charmingly moronic sidekicks who seem like they’ve been raised by Instagram rappers. His main allies are a duplicitous love interest and his pseudo stepdad played by Vincent Cassel, who is slowly becoming obsessed with the Illuminati. It’s probably Cassel’s best role, his baggy buggy eyes, so intense in roles in Black Swan and Eastern Promises, used here to convey bovine credulity, to hilarious effect.
The World Is Yours is as funny and visual dazzling as Ritchie’s movies (the exotic European resort landscapes more reminiscent of The Man From UNCLE than Lock Stock or Snatch), but also less gimmicky, and with better acting. Gavras affords his characters, even the clownish ones, more humanity than Ritchie has at times. There’s also an element of social commentary, depicting an apolitical North African trying to navigate his life’s path through an increasingly multicultural Europe during a migrant crisis. It’s not an incisive critique, just some canny observations about how things actually are. Oh, and a healthy dose of British bashing, especially in the scenes where Francois goes to meet a Scottish drug lord (a wonderfully charming Sam Spruell) in a Spanish resort town that’s overrun with obnoxious, sunburnt, noisy, tribal tattooed Brits. We in the Anglo world love to poke fun at the French, but this painfully accurate critique scalds even worse going the other way.
Some movies provoke and challenge, others are just fun as hell. The World Is Yours is firmly among the latter, feeling “Hollywood” in all the best ways, though it’s also sneaky smart. If you have any friends that hate arthouse movies and refuse to read subtitles, this is the movie to convert them.