The Ax

New York Premiere

France, Spain, Belgium | 125 MINUTES | French |


A laid-off worker devises a novel approach to finding a new job-by physically "eliminating" other possible applicants-in this mercilessly entertaining comedy from director Costa-Gavras (Z, Missing). Based on a pulp novel by American author Donald Westlake, The Ax puts outsourcing, downsizing, and other 21st Century business trends where they belong: on the chopping block. When we first meet the middle-aged Bruno, he appears to be a not-so-polished international assassin, but as he confesses his life's story we realize that murder is merely a stepping stone to a more ruthless dream: rejoining corporate life. Having been made redundant from his job in the paper-making industry, Bruno was unemployed, bitter, and humiliated for over two years until he decided to adapt capitalism's market forces to the labor market; in other words, to eliminate all competition, by any means necessary. When a prime job at a paper factory opens up, Bruno gathers the names of potential candidates, and starts "downsizing." Still a loving father and good husband, Bruno juggles dinner with his kids, couples counseling with his wife, and body disposals. José Garcia gives Bruno a bumbling appeal in his single-minded approach to avoiding "the ax," while Olivier Gourmet is suitably steel-jawed as a rival businessman high on Bruno's "redundancy" list. Like Battle Royale in a Wall Street setting, The Ax takes the logic of capitalism to its illogical extreme, and makes sure you will never hear a CEO talk of "making a killing" the same way again.