In many of its scenes, Netflix’s The Takedown bears an obvious resemblance to the already iconic Lethal Weapon saga. And the reason is obvious: the duo of Omar Sy and Laurent Lafitte is still more than effective. Also, how director Louis Leterrier creates all the conditions for this action plot surprises with its good humor. The combination of both creates a film that refreshes the concept of the usual buddy films.
This Netflix movie sustains a new perception about the usual police duos that in fiction are usually sustained by the chemistry and the good work of their actors. In The Takedown he does, but these accomplices also enjoy a curious sense of urgency and purpose. The mismatched duo must face a dangerous and complicated enemy. And he will do it with all the weapons at his disposal. That includes smoothing over their rough edges and achieving, to the best of their ability, understanding each other. Too hackneyed for the genre? It could be, but thanks to the ease, good work, and sense of humor of Sy and Lafitte, the result is more ingenious than one might suppose.
If the first film laid the foundations for this friendship between extremes and forced collaboration, its sequel explores the idea with originality. And it does so from the conviction that the genre has a lot to say, despite its countless versions. This time, François Monge (Lafitte) is even more irritating than in his previous appearance, and the director delves into his most unpleasant features with a satirical air. Sy’s Ousmane Diakhité is a rare combination of a certain social commentary with a sense of exuberant physical comedy. The combination moves the Netflix movie from the generic (which it could be accused of) to more specific ideas.
The Takedown: Cops Looking for a Good Story
One of the highest points of The Takedown is the idea of using the French context to dialogue with unusual themes in similar films. From Monge’s attitude as a condescending and insistent Don Juan in past years to Diakhité’s, as a kind single father. The plot of the Netflix movie focuses on the idea of the interaction between the two and develops it with an intriguing sense of irony. Monge is a character that turns out to be unpleasant until he is humanized. For his part, Diakhité creates the condition on his sanity, while he must deal with a hostile environment. All of this while the central case — a murder involving right-wing extremists — is unraveled for context.
But the center of the film is its condition as a journey through both characters, their high and low points. Monge is a rare stereotype of arrogant run down, constantly mocked, but ultimately intuitive and brilliant. On the other hand, Diakhité is a combination of the incorruptible good cop, but also, a man between usual social pressures. And as the crime they investigate becomes more complicated, strange, and dangerous, it is clear that the complicity between the two will be essential. It is not a friendship — although it might seem so — but a line of common interests. But it is also an infallible insight into the fact that both Monge and Diakhité represent different layers of the same thing.
One of Leterrier’s qualities is turning the action into an extraordinary, well-choreographed staging. And in The Takedown he does. But at the same time, he manages to make his cops — between laughs, quirky conversations, and genuine insight — believable. There is a solidity of enormous interest in the way the director asks himself questions about what unites — or separates — this team. And especially, when they need to leave both things behind for something more important and transcendental.
Accomplices, companions, and something in the middle of both things
The Takedown has a carefree and well-constructed air that lightens the tension in the most complex moments, which there are. Leterrier has the same ability that he has had with Lupine to go from one extreme to another of drama, humor, and action. He does, with a well-thought-out mix of devices that make this sequel much denser than the first part of it. And especially, much more intelligent in the way of narrating an unlikely friendship in initially hostile terrain.
Yes, again it is a police duo. But this time, also an underhand comedy that is sustained by the charisma of its actors. An addition of unexpected interest in a film that could only be, another of many based on a worn trope. Something that The Takedown avoids at all costs.