The Crew (aka Braqueurs) Review

Posted: September 14, 2016 in 2016 Fantasy FilmFest, Action, Foreign
Tags: , , , ,

braqueursThe Crew (aka Braqueurs) is a phenomenon – an 80-minute, pure adrenaline, perfectly crafted exercise in action filmmaking. Writer/director Julien Leclercq has assembled a dragster built for speed and stripped of anything that would weigh the story down for even one beat. This movie is mandatory viewing for all would-be genre directors. Scratch that. The Crew should be studied in film schools or shown to anyone interested in a pure economy of storytelling. Of course, not every film should be be built according to these specifications, but given that too many movies are simply too damn long, Leclercq beautifully demonstrates the art of the possible.

This is a heist film, but one that defies the conventions. Instead of spending two thirds of the running time on the preparation, and one third on the robbery and aftermath, The Crew focuses almost exclusively on execution. Character introductions and development, and yes, there is more than enough of both, occur on the fly. Yanis (Sami Bouajila) heads an elite robbery gang in need of an explosives expert. They bring on Eric (Guillaume Gouix), who has his hands full with his day job, his family, and his oxy addiction. Yanis has his own problems, namely a mother who won’t talk to him and a brother who won’t listen to him. He learns too late of the dangers of nepotism, and suddenly, what should have been a successful score leads into a downward spiral.

We don’t get just one heist in The Crew; Leclercq packs in three, with the degree of difficulty escalating exponentially. Each one is unique, in terms of the target, the plan, and the manner in which it unfolds on the screen. Leclercq receives a big assist in his efforts from cinematographer Philip Lozano, who learned his craft, in part, by working on action flicks like The Transporter and District B13, the brilliant 84-minute thriller that may have served as inspiration here. One scene filmed inside of an armored vehicle that shows the effects of an explosion is particularly impressive.

Genre films such as The Crew offer us the visceral thrills of voyeurism as we identify with the anti-heroes and root for them to get away with it. Unfortunately, there is a moment in The Crew, when we are rudely stripped of the illusion and reminded of the awfulness of today’s reality. After the terrible events of the last two years in Paris, it is very jarring to see, on film, gunmen firing on a police car in the streets of the French capital. This moment in The Crew is not meant to be exploitative; it is simply unfortunate. It is brief, and the moment passes. We are still left admiring Leclercq’s work, but our enjoyment is diminished, ever so slightly.

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