French actor Omar Sy is having a good time, and it’s been a long time. Even since his breakout role in the pivotal hit The SidewalkersSy has spent the past decade playing small supporting roles in American blockbusters (X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jurassic World) and offers French cartoons (Movie Angry Birds and soul). He found success in his native France, starring in the crime drama On the other side of the tracks. But not until his main part as the irresistible gentleman thief made famous in the Netflix heist series Lupine that he found the second wave.
Now he’s riding that badge as the same charming character in the sequel On the other side of the tracks, best friend-cop movie directed by Louis Leterrier Take it down. In this film, Leterrier’s first French-language film, Sy returns as Captain Ousmane Diakhité, a rising star in the Paris police force who has achieved greater fame after his hit defeated an MMA fight, knocked out a healthy pugilist in the process, and the video of the action went viral.
His crime-solving skills are put to the test, however, when a decapitated torso mysteriously appears on a train. It is discovered by Diakhité’s vain ex-partner, François Monge (Laurent Lafitte). Despite François’ rich perfume and well-dressed, he’s just an ordinary officer demoted to a precinct after multiple attempts to get promotion. He considers this case his big breakthrough, and he teams up with Diakhité to venture into a racist French enclave to solve the murder.
As a director, Leterrier knows how to have fun. He proved his flair with intricate plot twists in the magical heist drama Now you see me and martial arts action movies Liberate, release, free, in which Jet Li is a law enforcement officer raised as a dog that attacks humans. Leterrier accents his works with dynamic oranges, reds, and blues, giving his action a much more playful palette than the somber aesthetic of modern action movies like Project Adam or 355. (Leterrier recently replaced Justin Lin as director of the Fast & Furious franchise.) X fast.)
The actors also provide a spark. Sy and Lafitte share a spirit of giving and giving, as their characters exchange regrets about their love lives and career successes. Those jokes create more laughter as the story progresses. In a small town, Ousmane and François team up with local policeman Alice (French rock star Izïa Higelin), who is a bit empty as an archetypal love affair with very little personality. She attracted almost no attention compared to the glamorous man François and Ousmane. However, the trio still struggles as Ousmane and François compete to prove who is the better detective.
Sometimes Take it down seems to be enjoying himself too much. A chase of a suspect through a laser-tagged maze turns into a go-kart chase through a shopping mall, all of which takes too long. Likewise, a final race on an orange Jeep, through hills and slopes and between mountain passes, loses a little bit of fun with each tedious turn. Somewhere in the two-hour run is a tight, gritty 90 minutes. But too much fat will choke the potency.
The extra run time is especially pointless in a movie with so few unexpected stories. We know who’s the bad guy and which molester will betray Ousmane and François early in the movie, which leaves Sy and Lafitte to keep tweaking the proceedings. Thankfully, Sy in particular can handle the load. Even if the script is based on jovial, underdeveloped gay jokes, his cute and innocent personality still delivers unstable beats with goofiness. And his physicality, at home in the bruised fight scenes as he flirts softly with Izïa, raises the question of what kind of James Bond he would be, if the thought of a French actor playing The British spy role won’t make the British nauseous.
The main surprises in Take it down comes from how such a hilarious adventure deals with heavy political themes. Ousmane struggles with tokenism in the Paris police department as they try to turn him into a recruiting tool. For a laugh, François lamented how hard it is for a rich white man to succeed in this world.
Stéphane Kazandjian’s scripts are often too simplistic to make those racial themes work. The town’s villainous white fascist mayor (Dimitri Storoge) is the totem of other real-life populist governments sweeping across Europe. Instead of writing a stronger script, Storoge plays the mayor broadly as a lowly man with terrible intentions – specifically, he wants to rid France of its non-white refugees. That goal, while morbid, doesn’t add a particularly palpable sinister edge to the story. Instead, this mayor is a smoldering, anti-climate enemy. If more thought was devoted to these subjects, perhaps they would discover their intended gravity.
Despite a few extra red ropes and a lack of suspense, Sy and Lafitte carried on. They give the story some momentum and a loose rhythm, which makes the winding story more engaging, even if it doesn’t break out of the familiar action pattern. If you’re missing out on the days when this kind of grand action crime story had colorful visions and lovely leads, Take it down may provide a temporary fix.
Take it down currently streaming on Netflix.
https://www.polygon.com/23060636/the-takedown-review-netflix-omar-sy The Takedown review: Lupin’s Omar Sy adds sparks to a standard action movie