Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When cops and robbers start looking the same, you have to pay attention. In the modern thriller tradition no one tells you what's going on, except people are shooting at each other and, if you blink, one of them will go down. Which one? The good guy?

Is anyone a good guy? The old idea of white hats and black hats, stubble-and-ciggies vs clean-cut-and-wipes is history. The less you tell an audience, the more they sit up and take notice. One of the messages coming out of this highly sophisticated police drama is that when undercover detectives get too close to their informants, whose to tell them apart?

Copy picture

If you strip the script back to its roots, you have a good cop and a bad cop at each other's throats, which slips neatly into the aforementioned hatbox. Except nothing's neat and everyone's corrupt in one form or another. It comes, as they say, with the territory.

Detectives Leo Vrinks (Daniel Auteuil) and Denis Klein (Gerard Depardieu) are both in the running for the chief's job when he retires. Vrinks appears the most likely because they say that Klein is past it and no one likes him. While this power struggle is bubbling nicely, a gang of ruthless criminals cause havoc in the city and the first to nab them will almost certainly be rewarded with promotion.

Directed by Olivier Marchal, an ex-cop himself, the film looks terrific. The Machiavellian moves and political infighting seems, at times, melodramatic and by the end slips easily into a groove, worn smooth by countless cop/gangster altercations.

With actors like these, you don't talk of stereotypes. Their individuality and presence ensures a greater degree of commitment. The only flaw, if you discount the violence, is a storyline with this number of twists can tie itself in knots.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2005
Share this with others on...
36 packshot
Power play and dirty tricks in the French police force.
Amazon link

Director: Olivier Marchal

Writer: Dominique Loiseau, Frank Mankus

Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, André Dussollier, Roschdy Zem, Valeria Golino, Daniel Duval, Francis Renaud, Catherine Marchal, Guy Lecluyse, Alain Figlarz, Vincent Moscato

Year: 2004

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


EIFF 2005

Search database: