'Braqueurs': Marrakech Review

Courtesy of Marrakech Film Festival
A better than average cops-and-robbers movie carried by its leading man's understated cool.

Hijacking armored cars is a family affair.

Forget money and women, says the heist-pulling hero of Julien Leclercq's Braqueurs: Taking down armored trucks is "what gives me a hard-on." His delivery is more colorful, which is something of an anomaly in an otherwise steely-serious performance by Sami Bouajila (Days of Glory) as Yanis, the leader of this Paris-based gang. The film itself isn't quite as single-minded as Yanis, falling somewhere between visceral crime procedural and emotional underworld melodrama. Though it doesn't bubble up to the top level of its genre, it supplies enough pleasure and attitude to satisfy fans of post-Besson Gallic action.

Reportedly, the pic was scheduled for release in France before November's attacks made it seem risky to ask viewers to identify with heavily armed men of North African descent. But there's nothing political about Yanis and his crew, no-nonsense thieves who somehow seem to do most of their work on abandoned stretches of road far from innocent bystanders.

Their jobs, frankly, tend to go a tiny bit too smoothly for the film's benefit, lacking the kind of nail-biting anticipation or unforeseen complications the most involving movie robberies tend to offer. Which is not to say the gang is perfect: Resentful at the small share of loot he's getting, Yanis' brother and junior henchman Amine (Redouane Bahache) secretly sells a gun used in a high-profile heist instead of disposing of it. When the buyers, a powerful drug gang, get in trouble using that gun, Yanis is forced to rob a shipment for them to set things straight. But getting into business with these strangers would be trouble even if Yanis didn't decide to keep the millions' worth of dope for himself.

This entanglement eventually threatens the crooks' loved ones, from Yanis and Amine's mother to the wife of their explosives expert Eric (Guillaume Gouix). In developing these perils and showing how Yanis' chosen career has kept him from the woman he loves, Leclercq and co-screenwriter Simon Moutairou sometimes seem to be shooting for something like the brotherhood-of-thieves drama of a film such as Heat. They don't quite get there, failing to give us enough reasons to invest in the crew's other members. But on occasion, taciturn moments with Yanis hint at the movie this might have been.


Production company: Labyrinthe Films

Cast: Sami Bouajila, Guillaume Gouix, Youssef Hajdi, Redouane Behache, Kahina Karina, Kaaris, David Saracino

Director: Julien Leclercq

Screenwriters: Julien Leclercq, Simon Moutairou

Producers: Julien Madon, Julien Leclercq

Director of photography: Philip Lozano

Production designer: Gwendal Bescond

Costume designer: Muriel Legrand

Editor: Mickael Dumontier

Composers: Jean-Jacques Hertz, Francois Roy, Laurent Sauvagnac, Adrien Blamont

Casting director: Thomas Lubeau

Venue: Marrakech International Film Festival (Out of Competition)

Sales: SND Films


In French

Not rated, 80 minutes