Jean-Claude Lother
Francois Cluzet as Alexandre and Marie-Josee Croze as Margot in the French film "Tell No One."
TELL NO ONE — ** 1/2 — Francois Cluzet, Marie-Josee Croze; in French, with English subtitles; not rated, probable R (violence, profanity, torture, slurs, nudity, gore, brief sex, brief drugs, vulgarity)

"Tell No One" has more than enough story and characters for a movie. In fact, it has enough of each for about three or four films.

This European import is so overplotted, so contrived and so convoluted that it becomes frustrating to watch.

And yet, it has a terrific setup that keeps us interested (it's based on a well-regarded novel by Harlan Coben), and there's at least one really great, thrilling action scene that makes the whole thing watchable.

Veteran French actor Francois Cluzet ("Late August, Early September") stars as Alexandre Beck, a pediatrician who's still haunted by the murder of his wife, Margot (Marie-Josee Croze), nearly 10 years ago.

Alex was a suspect in her death, and police still have their suspicions about his innocence. Especially when two bodies are discovered near the original crime scene.

While he's contending with that development, Alex is also confronted with a mystery. He's received an anonymous e-mail that features recent surveillance camera footage suggesting that Margot is still alive.

As you'd expect, Alex goes on the lam as he tries to discover how the original crime may be tied to an aristocrat (Jean Rochefort) and his relatives, as well as figure out why he and Margot were apparently targeted.

Actor-turned-filmmaker Guillaume Canet sometimes struggles to pull all of this together (the big "reveal" at the end is disappointing), but he has a great cast and the supposedly cliched, innocent-man-on-the-run conceit works well here.

Besides, the chase-across-rush-hour-traffic sequence is a real doozy. His stunt performers and drivers deserve some sort of award for pulling it off so convincingly.

"Tell No One" is not rated but would probably receive an R for strong scenes of violence and violent action (shootings, beatings, vehicular mayhem, knife violence and violence against women), strong sexual language (profanity and other frank talk), scenes depicting torture, derogatory slurs based on sexual preference, glimpses of full male and female nudity, some gore and blood, a brief sex scene, and brief references to drug use. Running time: 125 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com