The Swarm – Rediscovering ‘Nid de Guêpes’ / ‘The Nest’ (France 2002 – 107 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - September 05, 2014
The Swarm – Rediscovering ‘Nid de Guêpes’ / ‘The Nest’ (France 2002 – 107 mins)

One of the greatest action movies I have ever seen; ‘Nid de Guêpes’ is a superbly made thriller featuring several heart-stopping action sequences. The story itself is a simple, yet incredibly suspenseful one.

During a national holiday, at the same time that the leader of the Albanian mafia; Abedin Nexhep, is being escorted to court by French Special Forces, a gang of thieves are planning a warehouse break-in. When the armed escort is ambushed en-route by Nexhep’s henchmen, the Special Forces are forced to take refuge in the same warehouse as where the thieves are operating. Now trapped, both groups have to band together to survive from a seemingly endless onslaught of gunfire from Nexhep’s faceless followers, who have now completely surrounded the building, intent on rescuing their evil leader.

You’ll often read comparisons with this movie to ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ (’76), but ‘The Nest’ more than stands on its own. Filled with subtle insect-motif’s, I think it’s a far superior film to the John Carpenter classic. It’s a shame that this movie is not more well-known outside of France, as in the same year when Hollywood brought us ‘The Bourne Identity’, ‘Die Another Day’ and ‘The Transporter’, ‘The Nest’ certainly matches (if not exceeds) these movies for sheer action and excitement.

Popular French actor Sami Naceri is very good as Nasser, the leader of the gang of thieves. Naceri began his career with a bit part in Luc Besson’s ‘Léon’ (’94), and had a recurring role in the hugely popular series of ‘Taxi’ films (’98-2007). As Laborie, the female leader of the Special Forces, Nadia Farès is excellent and handles the action scenes very well. Farès had earlier co-starred with Jean Reno in the acclaimed thriller ‘The Crimson Rivers’ (’02), and later starred in the tense horror movie ‘Storm Warning’ (’07). The talented supporting cast includes Pascal Greggory as a violin-loving security guard, and Benoît Magimel as one of the opportunist young thieves.

While the acting is excellent all round, the movie is really about the story and action sequences. Two memorable moments that stick in my mind are the ambush on the armored truck carrying Nexhep, which is beautifully shot and at first catches the viewer completely off guard. The second is the initial onslaught on the warehouse which, for the next few minutes, sees more gunfire than a dozen Die Hard films.

Writer-director Florent-Emilio Siri went on to make the 2005 Bruce Willis thriller ‘Hostage’ and the 2012 Claude Francois biopic ‘My Way’. The outstanding cinematography was by Siri regular Giovanni Fiore, whose later films include ‘Transporter 3’ (’08), and the terrific political thriller ‘Bitter Victory’ (’09).

I’m not the biggest action movie fan, so I haven’t seen as many as most people, but as tense French thrillers go, I’ve yet to see a better one. Even if you’re not great with subtitles this movie is very easy to follow, and it grabs you right from the off, without hardly any let up. A truly unique movie, for me ‘Nid de Guêpes’ remains “C’est magnifiques”.

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