Paris, the anti-gang squad does things their own way, causing much in collateral damage and related costs. A group of highly organized robbers is hitting banks and jewelry stores around the city. The squad goes after them but is stop when a change in management benches them in favor of a more by the book squad. As things are escalating, the original squad decides to go after the robbers even though they are banned from doing so. All kinds of action film goodness ensue.
Antigang is also known as The Squad and The Sweeney: Paris depending where you are seeing it. It’s an adaptation of the British film The Sweeney, itself an adaptation of the tv series The Sweeney. The film The Sweeney was written by John Hodge and Nick Love, Francois Loubeyre and Tristan Schulman adapted it for this French version which is very French in many ways, including location and cast of course, but mostly in how French action films have evolved this last decade. This adaptation is directed by Benjamin Rocher who also directed La Horde, a horror action film worth checking out. Here he takes the script and builds a fun action film that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. No big message, no moral outside of the bad guys are bad and the good guys are good.
The action sequences here, including the film’s opening, actually show the action, something reminiscent of 80s and 90s action films that has gotten lost in recent years with the over edited movies we have been getting. The characters are somewhat developed, their relationships to each other and work much more so than who they are deeply, but this is something that works here. The squad is a team and they depend on and care for each other. A few characters such as their leader, Serge, and his second in command, Cartier, have more meat on their bones and this leads to them being the ones the audience cares for the most as well as the ones that spend the most time on screen. Cast as Serge is Jean Reno, a fixture of French (and French action) cinema since his start in Luc Besson’s Subway and as Cartier is Alban Lenoir, both of whom give very good performances elevating this actioner above the usual bang-pow-bam of most action films, keeping the viewers’ attention on them when they are on screen, giving off a chemistry that makes their friendship believable.
The rest of the cast also does well, but these two carry most of the movie and give the best performances. Reno being an actor who can take any part and make it work is always a good choice for layered characters, may it be in a drama or an action film like this one. Worth noting, in this film are the fight and action scenes. The film opens on one of these and has a few more peppered throughout, these scenes are fun and shot in a way that adds to the actual action, not shying away from any of it. Not everything is cut and edited to death and the action is shown, not off screen, adding to the entertainment the film offers.
Having not seen the original series or movie The Sweeney yet, I cannot compare Antigang to it or judge it as a new adaptation, but as it stands, it’s a very entertaining action film that should not bore anyone with strong performances and a simple but good story. It can easily be added to the bunch of good French action films released in the last decade or so.