Martyrs is a film about revenge. The plot centres on attractive young woman Lucie, and her attempt to exact revenge on the people who abused and imprisoned her as a child. Helping her is her friend, Anna, who is also, coincidentally, an attractive young woman. Throughout the film they beat, shoot and kill. Though this might sound like a ringing endorsement, it is not. Martyrs ends up being a complete mess of a film. Initially it seems to promise 90 minutes of bloody, visceral fun. In the end, however, it has completely lost the run of itself and you will struggle to care about watching until its conclusion.
Morjana Alaoui plays Anna. Attractive. Young. And almost definitely a woman.
One thing that Martyrs does do successfully is grab a hold of your attention. We are first shown a young girl running from some unseen evil. She is bloodied, bruised and running for her life. We see her being rehabilitated and making friends in an orphanage. She is then attacked in her bed at night. The film then jumps forward 15 years and we see a family eating breakfast. As odd as this all sounds, Martyrs only ends up making less and less sense. What happens next is probably the best part of the entire film, it’s just a shame Martyrs cannot keep up the same level of intensity and intrigue for the rest of its running time.
Martyrs ends up feeling like two completely different films that have been forced together. Actually it’s more like 22 films that have been mixed into one big pot of insanity. It starts off as a small revenge tale, which is fine, but then blows itself up into something much, much bigger. Maybe if it had remained as a revenge flick it would have been a passable thriller. Instead it just gets so bloated that it makes no sense and becomes unintentionally funny.
This is a film that prides itself on its twists. There is one after the other every few minutes. The only problem is that if you have ever seen a film, you will see most of them coming. The ones you do not predict however are so unbelievably ridiculous that any chances of taking the film seriously are gone. Good twists are for good films. And M. Night Shyamalan.
M. Night Shyamalan: What a twist!
With no discernibly good idea left to put in to Martyrs, it descends to the lazy, redundant genre of ‘torture-porn’. It ends up resembling the Hostel films and the sequels of the Saw franchise. If you enjoy watching someone being tied to a chair and beaten this film might be for you but it’s just not entertaining. It’s not that the violence is off-putting, it’s just so boring. Once you have seen James Bond getting his balls pummelled in Casino Royale, there’s not much else left to see.
Ever wonder why Bond has all that sex and no illegitimate kids? This is why.
If you do make it to the conclusion of Martyrs, well done. The ultimate reveal however is so unfulfilling that you will wish you turned it off half-way through. It is almost worth watching though, just for how insane it really is. You will end up worrying about the mental stability of the people who wrote it. It’s just that crazy.
This just about avoids being a six beer movie because of a decent first few minutes. It also winds up being one of those films that you can insult while you watch, which is always fun. It is truly awful though. I will never be able to trust or look at another French person after watching this. Mon Dieu!
French people: bloody mental
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time you think or say ‘What the fuck?!?!’
Take a drink: every time someone dies
Drink a shot: whenever someone says the title of the film
Down your drink: when you can’t bear to watch any more while sober