fri 25/07/2014

Braquo, FX | TV reviews, news & interviews

Braquo, FX

Second series of gritty French cop drama is even more full-on than the first

Jean-Hugues Anglade as Eddy Caplan in series two of 'Braquo'

The first series of the French cops gone-to-pot drama ended with Lieutenant Eddy Caplan about to blow the head off his nemesis Serge Lemoine. Offing him was supposed to solve all Caplan and his team’s problems. Unfortunately, Lemoine was fitted with a wire and things didn’t go to plan. Series two began in the immediate aftermath with Caplan, his in do-do colleagues and Lemoine caged in the back of police van. As it rattled along, their on-the-run compadre Théo Vachewski was being hunted down.

After a brief recap of the previous series, the episode was off and running. Braquo's second outing was intended for fresh eyes. No knowledge of what went on before was necessary, which was just as well as this is a different beast to series one. That was about events overtaking Caplan and the three members of his team, their personalities and the interaction between them as they were sucked into escalating and self-perpetuated attempts to extricate themselves from the mayhem they’d wreaked. However appalling the events, they were led down this inexcusable path by their own choices. As the opening episode of series two closed, it was clear the quartet are no longer masters of their own destiny.

Following their meltdown in series one, Eddy Caplan and his team have had the book thrown at them

They could hardly be, and that’s the major distinction between the two series. Its writer Abdel Raouf Dafri told theartsdesk that series two is “even more violent, even more sarcastic [than series one]. The line between the good guys and the bad guys is even more fluid”. The over-the-top shoot out in suburbia early-on in last night’s series opener was incredibly violent, but the repositioning of the lead’s roles is just as fundamental to the make up of series two.

Following their meltdown, Caplan and his team from the Paris banlieues have had the book thrown at them. Caplan himself (Jean-Hugues Anglade: Betty Blue’s Zorg) has taken the blame and is in jail, on remand awaiting his fate. He doesn’t have to share a cell, allowing him to concentrate on weighty looking tomes. Roxane Delgado (Karole Rocher) has been demoted, and is grumpily staffing the enquiries desk at a police station. Walter Morlighem (Joseph Malerba) is pumping petrol at his former headquarters. The drug-infused Théo Vachewski (Nicolas Duvauchelle) has been sacked.

But they’re not going to be apart for long. Luckily for them and old times sake, a bunch of ex-soldiers have attacked vehicles conveying a cargo of gold bars. The extraordinarily ferocious massacre takes place in a residential suburb on a street lined with detached houses. Random citizens are slaughtered before the heist. There’s no explanation for why masses of gold is being ferried along a street that looks like the one in the opening scenes of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. And while we’re on the hard to understand, although this second series picks up instantly from the first, Nicolas Duvauchelle has suddenly, just like that, acquired a different body shape. Newly bulky, he’s clearly been working out between the two series. Either that, or he hid the fact he's the Incredible Hulk during the first series. 

Organised crime are on the case after the bloodbath and realise Caplan is just the man to infiltrate these crazed Angola veterans. The get-out-of-jail card means Roxane and Walter will be rescued from their drudgery. Slung out of the force, Vachewski is given the licence to pursue his grudge against Lemoine by a shadowy lawyer he bumps into in a night club. Coincidentally, Lemoine is in the frame to buy the stolen gold.

On the evidence of its first episode, Braquo’s second series is more violent, more breakneck than its predecessor. It’s lost the echoes of The Wire and The Shield that its ex-cop creator Olivier Marchal brought. But the reconfiguring also means it has the potential to be more cartoonish than series one.

Watch the opening scene from episode one, series two of Braquo

As the episode closed, it was clear Caplan and his team are no longer masters of their own destiny

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