The Axe (film)

The Axe (US title: The Ax) (French: Le couperet) is a French-Belgian-Spanish film from 2005 by Greek-French director Costa-Gavras, starring José Garcia, Karin Viard and Olivier Gourmet. The film is an adaptation of the 1997 novel The Ax by Donald E. Westlake, and follows the attempts by a laid-off employee to get back on his feet. He eventually becomes so desperate that he is prepared to kill his job competitors.

The Axe
(Le couperet)
Original French poster
Directed byCosta-Gavras
Produced byMichèle Ray-Gavras
Written byJean-Claude Grumberg
Based onThe Ax
by Donald E. Westlake
StarringJosé Garcia
CinematographyPatrick Blossier
Distributed byMars Distribution (France)
Release date
  • 2 March 2005 (2005-03-02) (France)
  • 9 March 2005 (2005-03-09) (Belgium)
  • 28 October 2005 (2005-10-28) (Spain)
Running time
122 min
Budget$5.4 million[1]
Box office$4.9 million[1]


The 39-year-old chemist Bruno Davert has been working at a paper mill for 15 years, improving products and saving money for the shareholders. One day, the company announces that it is forced to "downsize", so 600 staff are laid off and many of their jobs are instead outsourced to a company in Romania. The result is a 16% increase in dividends to the company shareholders.

Bruno was one of the 600 laid off, and two years later he has still not been able to find another job, in spite of numerous job applications. He has lost his self-esteem and his family has been forced to give up many of its accepted comforts, such as cable TV and the internet, although his wife has taken two part-time jobs in order to keep them afloat. Bruno concludes that there is too much competition in his sector for the few jobs available, so in desperation he decides to literally eliminate his competitors, by killing those more qualified than him.

Main cast

Critical reception

The movie was well received by the critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 80% of 5 critics gave the film a positive review, for an average rating of 7.2/10.[2]


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