Departieu is a retired policeman, now a private detective used by the French Government, searching for a brutal serial killer but, apparently, killed in a fight with him early in the film. The central part of the film is the story of the journalist, played by Guillaume Canet, who claims to be Vidocq's biographer so one has a series of flashbacks as he tries to find out what happened. Beautifully photographed and staged - I especially liked the look of the early morning sky over the city in more than one scene, this is a fast-moving fantasy thriller unless you accept, for instance, that you can kill someone with lightning.
The plot revolves around a search for perfection by three corrupt officials and, when the story returns to the time of the opening fight Vidocq is actually alive and ready to unmask the villain in a startling closing sequence. Fortunately, this film is considerably better than the director's later, second attempt - the Halle Berry 'Catwoman'. Thoroughly enjoyable and well acted with a special mention to Jean-Pierre Gos who plays Vidocq's official successor.