The best thing going for the French-Belgian import "The Connection"? It feels like a throwback to some classic crime stories. The worst thing? It will remind you of movies that are better than it is.

The best thing going for the French-Belgian import "The Connection"? It feels like a throwback to some classic crime stories. The worst thing? It will remind you of movies that are better than it is.

As the title implies, it's a loose take on the French side of the heroin trade from William Friedkin's 1971 classic "The French Connection."

Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin of "The Artist") is a dedicated cop who transfers to a drug task force and immediately starts making life uncomfortable for the resident heroin kingpin Gaëtan Zampa (Gilles Lellouche).

Director Cédric Jimenez spins a complex yarn that often feels familiar, but "The Connection" also packs in a lot of tension and, of course, violence. The drug trade is always violent.

Dujardin and Lellouche are solid in the leads, as a long cat-and-mouse game plays out making the film remind you of another (superior) crime drama in Michael Mann's "Heat."

While the film manages to blend a sense of slick and gritty - owing a debt to a lot of similar films, such as "Goodfellas" - there are times when the proceedings begin to feel a bit procedural. We've been here. We've seen that.

You could definitely do a lot worse, but "The Connection" suffers from the same pitfalls of comparison that bogged down last year's "A Most Violent Year." Still, it'll scratch that smart crime flick itch.