Often times when I’m talking about the 2 Criminals project, people ask what it will be “like.” There are many possible answers to that question, but generally I think people are wondering what previously-released films 2 Criminals will be comparable to. Of course I hope to generate something new and something never before seen with 2 Criminals, but I thoroughly believe in the notion of imitating those who came before us. Creating successful films is every bit as much a science as it is an art.
The closest film, tonally, to what I hope to achieve with 2 Criminals is The Professional. In The Professional, a contract killer’s life is turned upside down by a 12-year old girl who needs his protection… and his love. Somewhat similar to the director of The Professional, Frenchman Luc Besson, I am a foreigner looking to make a film that portrays the quirks of organized crime, set in a country that I’m very much culturally removed from (Luc shot his film in NYC). The Professional also has in common with 2 Criminals a delicate, refreshing love story that contrasts realistic and frightening violence.
I am astounded by the way Besson seamlessly shifted gears from dark to light. His protagonists, Leon and Matilda, both went through a refreshing arc of maturity and growth throughout the duration of the 110 minute film, as well. Both of them discovered the power of true, self-sacrificial love amid an austere world of flying bullets and corrupt authority figures. The Professional was a film that refused to adhere to the usual constraints of the gangster genre, or standard love story expectations. And it resonated with cultures all over the world! It also launched the career of future Best Actress winner Natalie Portman, it opened all sorts of doors for Gary Oldman, Jean Reno and Luc Besson, and The Professional continues to touch and inspire people to this day with subsequent special edition and blu-ray releases.
I believe The Professional serves as a fantastic model to aspire to with the creation of 2 Criminals. The unlikelihood of two yakuza members leaving behind their violent past to serve survivors of a tsunami is a story that defies stereotypes and genre limitations. And, like The Professional, it’s an inspiring tale that insists there is hope, even in the ugliest of situations. This is a notion that I adhere to, and hope to instill in the message of 2 Criminals.