Based on the memoir of French police detective Roger Borniche, 'Flic Story' grippingly recreates a violent post-war crime spree that shocked a nation still reeling from Nazi occupation. When Emile Buisson (Jean-Louis Trintignant) France's most notorious criminal escapes from a mental asylum, his bloody rampage has politicians and the press demanding results. Paris cop Roger Borniche (Alain Delon) gets the thankless job of finding Buisson and either bringing him in or stopping him dead. Through rooftop pursuits, alley stakeouts, nightclub showdowns, and car to car gun battles, Borniche, a stylish and scrupulously ethical "flic" (French slang for "cop"), is forced to break the rules he usually only bends.
This film is beautifully contrived with excellent narrative technique and exact tuning of the constantly threatening menace of violence. It has a positively thrilling use of colour and setting which I should associate with Antonioni. There is a nostalgic delight in seeing the relative calm and order of the Paris streets, enlivened by the enthusiastic vision of Traction Avant bandits showing what you could really do with a front wheel drive Citroen! As usual, this outdoes American gangster movies … by a long way. A joy to watch; especially with Alain Delon furiously over-acting the clipped-speech-laconic-smart detective, with his eyebrows working overtime ... can you over act "laconic"? Delon almost caricatures himself … .Trintignant, as Buisson, gives one of the most chillingly convincing portrayals of ruthless, delicately under-acted, menace that I have ever seen. This is a strangely sympathetic portrayal, in fact, of the utterly ruthless driven killer who is still human within himself … but driven. Ground for some quite deep speculation about humanity. Similarly, the portrayal of brutal police methods, and those who use them, is shocking … disturbing … and in the end unresolved.
It is amusing to feel a sort of startled charm nowadays at seeing half the cast with cigarettes dangling from their lower lips! Again, like the empty streets and the traction avant driving, this is a nostalgic step into the past.