This second series of the tough-as-nails French cop drama see’s Captain Eddy Caplan (played once again with dishevelled intensity by Jean-Hugues Anglade) and his team in dire circumstances, following their law-breaking escapades from the first season. Having failed to spring gangster Serge Lemoine from prison, things are looking horrendously bleak for the gang.
Thrust in front of a disciplinary board, Caplan is imprisoned on remand and although colleagues Roxanne and Walter escape being booted off the force, their demotions to that of a glorified receptionist and car maintenance man, respectively, hardly makes for a cheery outcome. Live wired coke fiend Theo evades both fates, but he’s discharged from the force like Caplan and begins a downwards spiral, which leads to further drugs and criminal activity, this time without his job to hide behind.
Luckily for Caplan, he may still be of worth to the police, and he’s released to infiltrate a gang of ex-military mercenaries (with La Haine’s Hubert Koundé amongst their numbers, trivia fans) who appear to have logged many hours watching Lethal Weapon and Die Hard With a Vengeance to achievement their desired image and torture preferences. They have stolen 400 kilos of gold which Caplan must retrieve if he is to have any future outside of prison. Add to that mix another criminal group, this time a trigger-happy family, whose stocky matriarch rivals the coldest and most ruthless villains found in any crime TV fiction.
To those fans of Braquo who thought the first series straddled that line between realism and fantasy – you ain’t seen nothing yet. This is a bigger, bloodier and an altogether more frantic affair than its predecessor. As to be expected, complications continue to ensue for both the cops and criminals, leading to a pile up of bodies in some incredibly violent and gruesome ways.
It’s to the maker’s credit that this material doesn’t overpower the rest of the show, and once again, it’s a riveting, hard-edged ride. Having upped the ante, both on a budgetary and emotional level, there’s a number of thrilling and visceral sequences when wouldn’t look out of place on the big screen. A gory and thrillingly-staged suburban shoot-out, where the mercenary procure their booty, packs a Heat shootout-style wallop into two minutes of screen time, resulting in high civilian casualties and an abundance of firearms.
While the characters have been broken up as a team this time around, they are still given sufficient time to resonant onscreen. Their plot lines converse in a satisfying manner and each one have their own demons to battle with on top of the seemingly desperate and unwinnable situations they found themselves in. Theo, in particular, is away from the rest for the majority of the time, yet he’s thankfully given a strong thorough line and actor (Claire Denis regular) Nicolas Duvauchelle is still as compulsively watchable as ever as his character’s actions factor into the narrative in a rewarding way.
It’s refreshing to see these guys haven’t gone through some kind of transformative experience and remain as bent (and likeable) as always. Braquo is back with full force, so sit back, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy the bullet-spewing, double-crossing carnage.