Jacob Richardson | 2/09/2020
Like a high school French student, you can pick up disparate and garbled elements of a good film in this otherwise largely average movie.
With the release of the third book in the incredible Deadalus trilogy, a team of translators are hired and whisked away to a luxurious underground bunker. Sealed away from the world, they spend months translating the book for simultaneous international release. But when parts of the book start to leak, the publisher Eric Angstrom (Lambert Wilson) will go to whatever lengths necessary to protect his investment - even murder.
The Translators has a distinctly intriguing premise - like a whodunnit, of all different language speakers locked in a basement with a ticking clock. And sometimes, that premise pays off in spades. The film has one great climactic fight scene where the different language skills of the group are used to tremendous effect, and another scene where the whole gambit comes crumbling down in a blaze of understanding that is also great. But these high points are few and far between.
For a lot of the movie, elements feel underplayed, poorly set out or hammy. The singing feels forced, the dialogue is at times cliche and problematic, and the story plays out in the most predictable and least interesting ways. From a performance perspective too, there is little here to love; even Olga Kurylenko, arguably the biggest star in the cast, struggles to make this material interesting. The sense of being undercooked is present too in some of the visuals, with posters and more being clearly CGI-d.
That being said, The Translators comes together in a finale that certainly levels up the piece. As the puzzle comes together, the movie starts to not only make more sense, it becomes much more entertaining. Does that make the watch worth it? Yes and no. It definitely changes the end of the picture, and lets you leave with a more positive view, but at the same time the disappointment throughout the early parts of the piece lingers.
A strong ending can't entirely replace the middling to poor early parts of the film.