Largo Winch (released in the U.S. as The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch) is a 2008 French film based on the Belgian comic book Largo Winch. It was released in France and Belgium on 17 December 2008, and in the United States in November 2011, where it was nominated for Best International Film at the 2012 Saturn Awards. A sequel was released in Belgium 16 February 2011 as The Burma Conspiracy.
In Hong Kong, owner and majority shareholder of the W Group, Nerio Winch, is awoken up by a phone call on his yacht, Neretva. After he picks up, an unknown man warns Nerio that he found someone else to have business with, and Nerio abruptly ends the call. Nerio gets up from his bed and goes to the lower deck, eating an apple. After he throws it into the water, he hears a weird sound from the water. Lowering down to see the source, a diver snatches him and pulls him down and suffocates him.
The next day, the W Group board of directors meets up with Ann Ferguson, Nerio’s right-hand man, to discuss the situation. They recently found out that Nerio had a secret son, named Largo, who was adopted from a Yugoslavian orphanage in April 1981, over 28 years ago, and was kept as a secret from everyone, was raised by Josip and Hana, a French-Croatian family to whom Nerio was close, along with Josip and Hana’s own son, Goran, until Nerio picked him up and raised him to take over his company one day. Other members are skeptical of Largo’s existence, but they want to bring him in to see if he truly is his heir.
Meanwhile, Largo Winch is in Brazil, where he rescues a young woman named Léa, who works for a non-governmental organization and was harassed by local militia. After they escape, they make love. However, while Largo is asleep, Léa injects him with a sedative and walks away, and Largo, while sedated, is captured by the militia and sent to prison. However, he is rescued by Freddy, Nerio’s former bodyguard, one of the few who knew of his existence, and they depart to Hong Kong for Nerio’s funeral.
Largo gets drunk because of Nerio’s funeral getting secret or revealed to the public, and wakes up the next day on a yacht with Nerio’s former butler telling him Freddy dropped him off and get dressed soon. Largo then arrives to the W Group’s headquarters, where he presents himself to the board of directors and correctly states facts about each of them, proving that he is really Nerio’s son, and also correctly explains the business ethics of the W Group and handling the stocks to prove he knows everything about the W Group. After that, one of the senior employers, Meyer, goes to meet him, but he is shot and killed by an unknown assassin. Largo chases him with the head of security, Stephan Marcus, but is unable to find him. He then goes to lunch with the W Group’s competitor, Michail Korsky, and is shocked to find Léa with him. He follows her to a spa, where she flees from him, but he finds out that her real name is Naomi and that she works for him.
Soon after, Korsky announces he is going to buy the W Group. Ferguson wishes to secretly buy Korsky’s corporation so he would be unable to do it, but it is only possible if the offer is made from a private individual, and Largo is the only one who is able to do so. Since the other members are unwilling to lend Largo the money to perform this, still skeptical about his actions, Largo decides he is going to bring them secret stocks that Nerio kept and trusted Largo with so he could prove to them who he is and to perform the deal.
Largo travels back to his childhood home in Dalmatia, where he meets with Hana, who is now a widow, since Josip died years earlier. Largo also meets with Goran, who is now a soldier in the Croatian Army. They have a meal together before Goran leaves the family home. The next day, Hana wakes up and finds Largo gone, only finding a note from him. Soon enough, she is attacked by an armed group, led by Marcus, who have tracked Largo through a GPS in his credit card. After finding out from the note that Largo has departed for Sarajevo, Marcus burns the house down, killing her.
However, Largo has traveled to a secret island, containing a monastery, where Nerio has a secret safe in which he holds his stocks. After unlocking the safe, he is cornered by Marcus. After taking his shares, Marcus tries to kill him, but Largo escapes and jumps into the sea, although he is shot and badly injured. He wakes up next day in the home of his childhood friend, Melina, since her cousin found Largo unconscious.
Soon after, Largo contacts Freddy, telling him that he is still alive and that he will contact him soon. However, Freddy meets with Ferguson, who reveals that she organized Nerio’s death in order to lure Largo. She also manipulated Korsky into announcing the buy-in of the W Group, and in turn, Largo would bring up the shares and Ferguson would secretly buy a controlling stake in Korsky’s group, making her a very powerful person. She also admits that Naomi is working for her, and that she found Largo and falsely set up charges for drug dealing against him, and the senior employee who was killed in front of Largo planned to reveal her plans to Korsky. Freddy requests the plan for hostile takeover of Korsky’s group so he could become a part to get rich in exchange for tracking down Largo. Ferguson agrees and sends Marcus for him, but he is tied up by him when Freddy contacts Largo again and tries to silently warn him about what is going on.
Meanwhile, Melina drives Largo to a small airport, where Korsky arrives in his private jet. Largo explains to Korsky about Ferguson’s plans and Naomi’s treachery, and that he has to go to Hong Kong before a large ceremony is planned, where Ferguson intends to announce the new heir to the W Group, apparently her secret weapon. Korsky agrees and withholds his original plan to buy the W Group. In Hong Kong, Korsky drives to the meet where he is cornered by Marcus, but cannot find Largo. Instead, Largo meets with Naomi, who reveals she is a mercenary for hire, and she contacts Marcus when Largo refuses to pay her up, and Largo agrees to pay her, and she leaves him the car.
However, Marcus catches up with Largo, intending to stop him from arriving to the meet. After a high-speed chase, Largo manages to enter the W Group headquarters, where he disguises himself. He arrives at the penthouse, where he, much to his shock, finds Goran. Goran recalls the events when he and Largo broke into the orphanage to find Largo’s records. Largo was found and captured, but Goran managed to hide. He was about to leave, but kept searching the records about Largo, but found his own records, revealing that he isn’t Hana and Josip’s son but that he was also adopted by Nerio along with Largo, and as such, he is also an heir to Nerio’s company. Ferguson contacted him and he agreed to represent the company while Ferguson would really have the power, in exchange for money. However, when Largo informs him that Ferguson, using Marcus, killed Hana, he changes his mind and agrees to help him.
However, Marcus arrives, and Goran pretends to help Marcus to kill Largo, while secretly telling him in Croatian that he is at Largo’s side. They fight Marcus together, but Marcus manages to shoot Goran. A fight ensues between Largo and Marcus, who almost throws Largo off the building, until Largo uses the last of his strength to stab Marcus in the neck with a knife, killing him. Goran begs for Largo’s forgiveness, and Largo forgives him as Goran dies from his injuries.
After rescuing Freddy, the two arrive at the meet, where Freddy plays a recording of his meeting with Ferguson while Largo arrives with his shares, which he took while visiting Goran. Defeated, Ferguson walks out of the stage and bitterly congratulates Largo for his victory. Largo announces to the gathered that he is Nerio’s son, and plans to take over the W Group to a thunderous applause.
Some time later, Largo is back at his childhood village, when a young boy corners him with a stick and asks him to surrender, to which Largo jokingly agrees. Largo asks the boy for his name, and the boy introduces himself as Danis, and that he is trespassing at his territory. Largo apologizes and walks away, but the boy asks him for his name, and Largo introduces himself. Danis wishes him good luck. Largo smiles, and walks away.
Directed by Jérôme Salle
Produced by Philippe Godeau
Written by Julien Rappeneau
Starring Tomer Sisley
Kristin Scott Thomas
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Denis Rouden
Edited by Richard Marizy
Pan Européenne Production
17 December 2008
Budget $25 million
Box office $30.2 million