William Friedkin's "The French Connection" is a gritty and intense thriller that takes viewers on a wild ride through the streets of New York City. The film follows NYPD detectives Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider) as they work to uncover a drug smuggling operation.
The plot is tightly woven and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. Friedkin's direction is masterful, with a raw and frenetic energy that perfectly captures the chaos and danger of the city. The chase scene, in which Popeye commandeers a civilian's car and careens through the streets after an elevated train, is a standout moment of cinematic adrenaline.
Hackman's performance as the rough-around-the-edges Popeye is nothing short of brilliant. He fully embodies the character's flaws, strengths, and obsession with his work. Scheider also shines as the more level-headed Russo, providing a necessary counterbalance to Popeye's wild behavior.
The film's tone is dark and gritty, highlighting the seedy underbelly of the city and the corruption that runs rampant. The score, by jazz musician Don Ellis, adds to the tension and unease.
The French Connection is a classic film that still holds up today. Its influence can be seen in countless crime thrillers that followed in its wake. It's a must-watch for fans of the genre, and for anyone looking for a thrilling, pulse-pounding ride.