Despite having some familiar elements, Christian Volckman's Renaissance is unlike anything I had seen before. Animated using motion capture technology, the film is a future noir set in Paris in the year 2054, and it's distinct for being in black and white with pretty much no shades of grey. Such stark contrast makes for some interesting and often beautiful images, though the film's style does seem to be motivated by its own novelty. It looks the way it does simply for the sake of looking the way it does, and unfortunately, the film's plot comes across as an obviously secondary concern.
The key to enjoying Renaissance, then, is to appreciate it for its blatant stylistic novelty and to give it some time. I nodded off after the first twenty minutes because the film is initially difficult to follow. It isn't that the story is too complicated, but it starts off with no helpful exposition, and that combined with the fresh but unfamiliar style makes it easy to feel lost. Once you get used to the visuals, though, it is easy to become engrossed in the convoluted kidnapping plot and fascinated by the filmmakers' creative, futurist intentions.
The kidnap victim is a young woman named Ilona (voiced in the English-language dub by Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights star Romola Garai), a researcher at a huge cosmetics corporation called Avalon. Assigned to find her is Barthelemy Karas (Casino Royale's 007,Daniel Craig), a police detective established as your basic hard-boiled action movie cop – in his first scene he ignores his superior, puts a hostage in danger, and, of course, still saves the day. While on the case of Ilona's disappearance, Karas falls for the woman's sister (28 Weeks Later'sCatherine McCormack), he chases suspects through the city, becomes led on by red herrings, learns of a conspiracy within Avalon and in a peak plot point shows that he isn't always that infallible cop he's introduced as.