Braqueurs (Ganglands) is a superb series based on a movie of the same name and each episode in this six part series has action scenes reminiscent of Michael Mann’s 1995 Heat.
Ganglands is over-dubbed in English and doesn’t come across as stilted like other foreign language series. So many times foreign language originals look good but are let down by the poor over dubbing or subtitles.
Mini-rant over, on with the show!
The opening scene shows Mehdi leading a team of armed professionals in a daring and high risk takedown in a quarry overcoming heavily armed opponents with excessive force and firepower. The prize is a truck with concrete blocks masquerading as rocks and hiding bars of gold. After the robbery, the crew then need to smash each rock to extract the gold.
Following this high octane opener, there is a shift in focus to Shainez who pretends to be prostitute, gains the trust of men, then she and her friend Liana rob them. However, this time the plan goes awry when the end up with eight kilos of cocaine and Shainez ends up getting kidnapped.
Now this is where it gets interesting because Shainez happens to be Mehdi’s niece and he gets involved in the negotiations to get her back. Mehdi is forced into increasingly dangerous and risky endeavours often at short notice in a bid to get his niece to safety and make sure he and his crew live. To do this, he co-opts Liana to help who, it turns out, is closer to Shainez than anyone knew.
The series escalates taking time to develop both the plot and characters. Every episode has a shootout of varying degrees; one takes place inside an underground car park that is worth a pause, skip back and rewatch at least three times because it is cleverly choreographed and shot.
Ganglands doesn’t pull any punches and the storyline is far from predictable. The main and sub-plots are well constructed, there are epic performances by the cast and, although we are essentially talking about gang warfare on a well-trodden drug angle, Mehdi’s character is likeable and believable.
6 episodes in the first series and the latest is that there will be a second series.
For the trailer see here