This should have been called ‘The Letdown’
If you’re a fan of such buddy cop movies as Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys, you might be interested in the French comedy-thriller The Takedown, which recently launched on Netflix. It’s the sequel to 2012’s On the Other Side of the Tracks but you don’t necessarily need to have seen that movie to get a handle on this one.
As befits other movies in this genre, we have a pair of mismatched cops who find themselves working together after a crime is committed. The crime, in this case, is an apparent murder on a train but rather than finding the victim’s dead body they find half of his dismembered corpse instead. This discovery is certainly very grim but don’t expect things to get overly serious. This is a light, frothy affair that prefers to skirt over the dark turns in the plot with wisecracks and silly hijinks from our two police protagonists.
Omar Sy (Lupin) stars as Ousmane Diakité, one half of the cop duo and he is joined by Laurent Lafitte (Elle) as his babbling buddy François Monge. The two stars have good chemistry together, which might be why the decision was made to bring them back after their previous film. But while they have the talent needed to deliver on both the comedy and the action front, the movie lets them down with overly silly dialogue and some fairly predictable twists and turns.
There is much here that will be familiar to you, from a comic scene in which Ousmane and Francois are forced to share a hotel room together, to a plot that involves drug running and a corrupt politician. It’s tired stuff and as the plot drags on, you might roll your eyes at the messy attempts at humour and conventional crime scenarios that play out on screen.
Still, while I do think this movie should be called ‘The Letdown’ rather than The Takedown, it’s not all bad. Director Louis Leterrier, who dazzled us with the Now You See Me movies, is on good form here, with a constantly moving camera that captures every action beat the movie pulls off. The fistfights pack a punch, the car chase scenes are reliably fast and furious, and the stuntwork is mostly excellent. Taken as an action movie, this almost works but it’s just a shame that the two lead actors have to spoil things with the nonsense they are forced to spout out whenever they open their mouths.
Thankfully, Sy and Lafitte are both excellent actors and they do much to elevate the movie, despite their cliched roles. They have a great screen presence so are fun to watch as they take down crooked villains, far-right nationalist groups, and other assorted do-badders. Leterrier clearly wanted to make a Hollywood-type action movie with a steady balance of laughs and with these actors, he almost pulled it off. But as I have already suggested, the weak script is the biggest problem here. It’s overloaded with jokes that have long since past their sell-by-date and scenarios that have been played out on screen a hundred times before.
Interestingly, Leterrier will be replacing Justin Lin as the director of the next Fast and Furious movie. He certainly has the skill to pull off scenes of motoring mayhem as the clifftop race in The Takedown proves. This is a thrilling scene with a satisfying payoff and wouldn’t look out of place in the aforementioned franchise that prides itself on high-speed action and car scenes that defy the laws of physics.
If you’re willing to shut your brain off for two hours, you might be able to overlook the movie’s weaknesses. The plot moves along relatively quickly so there isn’t a lot of time to consider how stupid it all is. Some scenes, such as one involving a go-kart chase though a supermarket, are entertaining to watch, despite making no sense at all to the greater scheme of things. So, the movie isn’t a total waste of time.
But if you’re looking for an action-comedy that is smart and insightful, with comedy scenes that will make you laugh out loud and twists that will make you gasp, you are out of luck with this one. The Takedown had a lot of potential but in the end, this isn’t quite the movie it could have been. It could have been the French equivalent of Lethal Weapon but instead, it has more in common with the many low-brow American imitators of that classic buddy cop movie.
Read More: The Takedown Ending Explained
Verdict - 6/10