Cop propaganda, or, as the kids call it these days, cop-aganda, is more of a television thing than a movie thing. Viewers know by now that Netflix bridges television and movies together. The streaming service, then brings that subgenre to the movies and are trying their darndest to make a franchise out of it. Louis Leterrier’s The Takedown, to its credit, gives it a few spins. First, this entry into the subgenre is French. Specifically, it’s a sequel of a movie that the Weinstein Company bought so no one is never going to watch it again. And second, some of us can consider it meta. But is it meta enough. Anyway, this movie’s protagonists are Francois (Laurent Lafitte) and Ousmane (Omar Sy), who discover a dead body in Paris’ Gare du Lyon train station. And that discovery takes them to a French town near the Alps.
The filmmaking feels like it’s taking its viewers back by twenty years, and who knows how far it’s taking us back with its premise’s execution. There are a lot of reenactments of how the person dies. These CSI reenactments surprisingly feel less memorable the more times we see them. The second and the third acts also feel similar in structure. Either Ousmane or Francois distract the townsfolk while the other does something with guns.
As it turns out, the guy from the Alps died because he was in the middle of a plot involving neo-Nazis. In Stéphane Kazandjian’s script, there are characters who show their racism to Ousmane unprovoked. There are also a few characters who are more subtle racists and fewer who act as allies. One of those allies is Alice (Izïa Higelin), a local cop that, surprise, both Francois and Ousmane lust over.
The Takedown eventually reveals which of the characters are more racist than what they seem. I dislike racists as much as any critic, more so because I’m a queer person of colour. And yes, I know this is a buddy cop comedy and that subgenre treats its characters like caricatures. There’s probably a way to portray these characters as caricatures with better execution, but this movie makes it feel like that’s impossible. The depiction of racists here defang them and presents them as less dangerous than they are in real life. The movie also puts these Nazis in contrast to Francois, who’s shown his own brand of subtle racism against Ousmane. And they’re supposed to be friends? I assumed Francois’ Jesus moment arrived during the original movie. Light spoilers, but if he does have a redemption here, it feels late.
Watch The Takedown on Netflix.