Combining the look and feel of movies like Sin City and Blade Runner, first time director Christian Volckman delivers a movie that is ultra-stylish, although the story itself does not feel all that special. Despite the familiar feeling, the film brings a bold, fresh look to the animated film genre. It is a science fiction tale of cops and criminals, kidnappers, and the misuse of science for personal gain. More than anything, the film is breathtaking for its use of motion capture and rotoscoping, utilizing the concept of adapting a graphic novel to the big screen, sans graphic novel.
The year is 2054, the place is Paris. This not terribly distant future finds most of the citizens employed by a cosmetics company called Avalon. This company seems to have their hands in all sorts of things, and they are massive. Avalon sort of reminds me of Resident Evil's Umbrella Corporation, or in the real world, Microsoft or Apple (which is funny considering IBM has credit for their technical support of the film). A young woman named Ilona (voiced by Romola Garai) is one of their most promising young scientists, that is until she is mysteriously kidnapped. The police detective assigned to the case, Karas (voiced by James Bond himself, Daniel Craig), sets out to find her. Along the way he meets her boss, Jonas Muller (Ian Holm), a gangster named Farfella (Kevork Mialikyan) who has a past with our hero, and his love interest Bislane (Catherine McCormack), who is also Ilona's older sister.
The story moves along in a straightforward manner; nothing is terribly deep, but Renaissance is nonetheless captivating. In some films, the lack of a deep story ultimately brings the film down a few notches, despite whatever else it may offer in interesting setting or style (see Perfect Creature). Renaissance does not have any big twists or turns; it is refreshingly straightforward as Karas moves forward in his investigation, as Bislane does some searching of her own, both intent on reaching the end and finding Ilona.
Karas is interesting even if he is cut from the same cloth as most other brooding heroes. There is something about him that hints of a tragic past, and ties him to Farfella. Actually, the character is not unlike Daniel Craig's other character, James Bond, a man of few words, a man of action, and a man willing to bed women while in the pursuit of his objective. There is even a scene early on where he gets the assignment which plays out like a meeting between Bond and M.