MR. CAR AND THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR. James Bond for the Poor

Mr. Car should be Poland’s export commodity, just like The Witcher.

Odys Korczyński

19 July 2023

Mr. Car should be Poland’s export commodity, just like The Witcher. Unfortunately, it is not. For years, Polish creators have not been able to use these adventure character archetypes to shoot something that the Americans successfully do in The Witcher. At least The Witcher was successful in games. I will not mention the series and the movie, so as not to constantly complain about their underdevelopment. However, in the case of Mr. Car, films and series from years ago are not at least of this caliber a complete flop. They lack technical refinement, efficient editing, and perhaps with age they have lost something that can encourage the modern, younger generation to watch, but they have an interesting script that requires the viewer to think. Mr. Car from 2023, directed by Antoni Nykowski, certainly had a budget, technical means, a perfectly fitting actor (Mateusz Janicki), but there was probably no love for Zbigniew Nienacki’s prose, which surprised me very much, because the author of the script, Bartosz Sztybor, is my peer, so as a representative of a generation standing with one foot in the declining PPR, he should still feel those times.

I keep wondering why these reconstructive inserts from the Middle Ages, which only submerge the whole stylistic production even more, because you can see that it is cheap. I’m dissapointed. I’ve been waiting for this film for many years, naively thinking that it was a good thing that no one made Mr. Car in the 90s, because it would have turned out to be a complete gut. It was necessary to wait until Polish cinema was technically established, gained experience in filming New Adventure productions and a generous producer appeared. Unfortunately, all this was not enough. You can see that the creators really tried, clearly fascinated by Indiana Jones and James Bond. They made a film lasting a little less than 2 hours, trying to present a stylized reality to the modern viewer in the Polish 1960s at a pace worthy of films from those years, especially Polish ones. And maybe this is where one of the problems lies, apart from – of course – purely technical issues?

Pan Samochodzik 4

Let’s start from the very beginning, because in the cinema of the New Adventure genre, the introductory scenes, even before the title credit appears, help to assess what awaits us next. In the case of Mr. Car, this qualitative “prophecy” turned out to be perfect. The developers did not wait. We meet the main antagonist from the very beginning. We don’t know his motives, but his character is quite cartoonish – coat, hat, Spanish accent. He is played by the characteristic Jacek Beler. I can already feel a clear inspiration from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There is even the sea, a car that is a ship, a fight in a lighthouse, and even a chase of a Fiat 125 converted into an off-roader with an UAZ 469. Most importantly, Mr. Car himself (Mateusz Janicki) appears. It’s colorful, contrasting, dark, sensational, the racing cars go maybe 30 per hour, and in the lighthouse the actors fight in an almost non-contact way, so the noose around the neck does not have to be around the neck for it to work. In addition, Mr. S, or Tomasz, talks to himself all the time so that the viewer knows exactly what is going on. Not entirely, however, because it turns out that the artifact sought by so many people, despite illuminating the island with a ray from a lighthouse, is found out of nowhere at the bottom of the sea near the shore. And then there is a lecture by Mr. Car at the National Museum and a meeting with the boss Gierymska. Just like in the aforementioned Indiana Jones, where the main character meets Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) after the lecture. I won’t spoil any more. I will only add that the antagonist disappears unexpectedly, the presentation of his motives is rather shallow, and the thread with the scouts seems to be pinned to the content by force. It runs parallel for a long time before the creators decide to combine the heroes into a larger group focused on searching for the treasure of the Templars, which also has a not very convincing definition. One gets the impression that the creators wanted to come up with something other than Nienacki by force. The killing of Petersen (Przemysław Bluszcz) also seems to be caused only by the lack of an idea for his further participation in the new version of the story. It’s a pity, because the relationship between Samochodzik and Petersen is very interestingly described by Nienacki.

Pan Samochodzik 3

Why James Bond for the Poor? Or would it be better to call Mr. Car in this version James Jones or Indiana Bond? First of all, our hero’s car is a peculiar combination of an older version of the Fiat 125p from the production years 1967-1973 with the bonnet and grill of the Ursus C-330 tractor. You have to push it to make it ignite (of course it’s a joke), but then it suddenly starts making sounds like a thoroughbred racer. Secondly, the numerous improvements that have been installed in it turn out to be ineffective, redundant or simply inoperative during combat. There is little finesse in this work of Uncle Gromiłło. As for the fight of Mr. Car, who always walks by himself, the creators were also inspired in one of the scenes by the fight in the Dessalines hotel of James Bond (Daniel Craig), but they forgot to refine the quality of the clash, it’s not just about the fight itself, but and its extinguishing, shading of emotions, which in Quantum of Solace is masterfully refined. And in addition, this music is a bit like from stock, not to say that in places even like from Lidl.

And, dear creators, feminism is not about hating everything and everyone that represents the male gender, and this is how this movie defines it. It is therefore the crudest, crudest version of his understanding, which is sown on the Internet and beyond by right-wing, Confederate and national circles. So it will certainly not be as Krzysztof Varga suggested. The film will not cause “heart palpitations or apoplexy among the orthodox.” At most, those less aware of reality, and probably not this part of the audience, the creators wanted to reach. So there is progress when it comes to the main character, because Mateusz Janicki showed promise. Let the rest be silence, because it has not been thought out. It is shallow, pretentiously fairy-tale-like, and does not have a deeper reflection on the moral condition of man, which was spun in his works by Zbigniew Nienacki, a writer who did not shy away from controversial choices and knew life from many darkest sides.

Odys Korczyński

Odys Korczyński

For years he has been passionate about computer games, in particular RPG productions, film, medicine, religious studies, psychoanalysis, artificial intelligence, physics, bioethics, as well as audiovisual media. He considers the story of a film to be a means and a pretext to talk about human culture in general, whose cinematography is one of many splinters.

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