REVIEW: “The Takedown” (2022)

Hot of the success of their streaming series “Lupin”, Netflix brings the show’s director Louis Leterrier and star Omar Sy back together in the new feature film “The Takedown”. It’s the sequel to 2012’s “On the Other Side of the Tracks”, a French action-comedy about two mismatched police detectives from drastically different backgrounds who are forced to work together to solve a high-profile murder.

Just like its predecessor, “The Takedown” pulls inspiration from the buddy-cop movies of the late 80s and 90s while injecting hard-to-miss racial and class commentary into its storyline. And much like its predecessor, “The Takedown” sticks so close to that familiar and well-worn formula that you pretty much know how everything is going to play out. The only thing new are the comical bumps in the road our heroes face on the way to its predictable ending.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

Penned by Stéphane Kazandjian, the story may be a sequel, but it’s written in a way that requires no real knowledge of the previous movie or the characters (that’s a good thing considering the first film’s tiny release here in the States). It’s all built on the shoulders of the two main characters played by the endlessly charismatic Omar Sy and the slyly comical Laurent Lafitte. The two reprise their roles and reignite their characters weird relationship for a new(ish) adventure.

The street-smart bad boy Ousmane (Sy) is a single father who has recently been promoted to head of the Paris Crimes Division. He is a good cop and you would think he was given his new position due to his stellar police work. Instead, the division is looking for a way to freshen up their tarnished image, especially with Paris’ minority communities. So what better way than to make a black cop the face of their new (and utterly shameless) PR campaign. Not only that, they assign a social media tag-along to follow Ousmana and upload his exploits to the web. As I said, shameless.

François (Lafitte), on the other hand, has been demoted to the 12th district, something he tries to sell as an “enriching” experience and a chance to “return to fundamentals“. François is an oblivious narcissist who’s actually a decent cop. But his self-anointed ladies-man vanity keeps him on the lower rung of the opportunity ladder. It also makes him the butt-end of some admittedly funny barbs hurled his way by his colleagues.

The two unexpectedly reunite after a body is found severed in half near the Paris train station. Their case leads them to the Provinces where François’ pigment privilege helps him to fit in while Ousmane has a tougher time navigating the not-so-welcoming locals. They do find an area ally in Alice (Izïa Higelin) who gives them the social and political lay of the land. But when both François and Ousmane take a liking to her, it rekindles an old rivalry between them. Meanwhile their investigation puts them on the trail of a white supremacist group with some pretty powerful leaders.

While Sy and Lafitte have the comedic chemistry to keep things entertaining, they’re trapped in a story that slowly starts to lose its energy the further it goes. Aside from being about 20 minutes too long, the script’s attempts at social commentary starts funny but gets so on-the-nose that it’s hard to take any message it may have to heart. And look, Sy and Lafitte are really good together. But it’s simply impossible for me to buy that their characters could ever co-exist together much less be friends. I would like to think that François’ casual racism would get much more of a response than an occasional disapproving look Ousmane.

Louis Leterrier has an interesting catalog of serviceable studio movies that includes “The Transporter” (the good one), the underrated “Clash of the Titans” remake, the MCU’s second film “The Incredible Hulk”, the surprise hit “Now You See Me”, and he’s set for next year’s “Fast X”. It’s hard to say where “The Takedown” fits in. Leterrier has a clear eye for banter-driven action in the vein of “Lethal Weapon” and he certainly has the two leads. But its hard to get past the script which never fully sells us on its characters or its social message. “The Takedown” is now streaming on Netflix.


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