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Empire's 50 Greatest Movie Sequels | The follow-ups that achieve greatness in their own right

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The French Connection 2
DIRECTED BY JOHN FRANKENHEIMER
RELEASED: 1975

Why's it so good? Gene Hackman came back as hard-edged police detective, Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle, with John Frankenheimer on board as director. This sequel takes Doyle out of his familiar New York surroundings and drops him into the incomprehensible world of Marseille, where he pursues Franco Rey, the drug dealer who escaped justice at the end of the first movie. What he finds there tests Popeye to the limit.

The French Connection 2 The French Connection 2
How does it stack up to the original? It doesn't quite live up to the visceral, verisimilitudinal impact of Friedkin's film, but French Connection II is a gripping and unconventional thriller. It makes no concessions whatsoever to making Hackman more likeable this time around - in fact, as he goes around Marseille like he owns the place, it's often wince-inducing. And then he gets kidnapped by the bad guys and forced into a heroin addiction in a gruelling extended sequence that should have seen Hackman Oscar-nominated again.

Glaring error: Frankenheimer does finish off with one of the great foot chases, as the recovered Doyle chases after Rey while the sound of Doyle's ragged, fragmented breathing dominates the soundtrack. Still, a kick-ass car chase wouldn't have gone amiss.


GAP BETWEEN SEQUEL AND ORIGINAL: 44 MONTHS


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