The Takedown (2022)
Director: Louis Leterrier
Screenwriters: Stéphanie Kazandijan
Starring: Omar Sy, Laurent Lafitte, Izïa Higelin, Dimitri Storoge, Stéphane Pezerat
Buddy cop movies, when done well, can be awesome. On the other hand, when done slap-dash, they’re the sewer blockage of cinematic hell. The Takedown, a Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk; Now You See Me) follow-up to 2012’s On the Other Side of the Tracks (directed by David Charhon) – which follows Omar Sy and Laurent Lafitte’s two detectives, paired up again after years apart to investigate the murder of a young man found cut in two on a train – takes a third, perhaps even more common route for these films: it is so incredibly average that you’ll forget you watched it five minutes before the credits even roll.
All of the actors do their jobs, with the two leads of Sy and Lafitte providing great chemistry as the detectives battling for dominance over one another whilst tackling contemporarily relevant racial and sexuality issues which dog their investigation. Even when jokes don’t land and dissolve into conversations that are meant to be absurd but just grate because they go on for too long (which happens a lot), the two of them make it just about bearable.
The music is fun and cheesy in places, but always gives that distinct feeling of being in a slightly less serious Bond movie; not quite Austin Powers but not quite Hot Fuzz either.
Speaking of Hot Fuzz, one of the many things that film had in its favour was the incredible editing of Chris Dickens. Dickens, and director Edgar Wright, managed to synchronise their visions so that every transition was well thought through and planned. The same cannot be said of Vincent Tabaillon’s editing of Leterrier’s film. The final product is given so many cuts that it rivals a blizzard of paper snowflakes. For much of the film it refuses to stop camera movements even for basic conversational scenes, and so many of the shots which make the final cut are chosen for seemingly no apparent reason other than to ‘create visual excitement to keep the viewers entertained.’
This attempt to give some excitement to a script which is mind-numbingly by-the-numbers comes off as desperate. Does it not trust that the story will engage us enough? Must it butt in and try to do the story’s job for it? There are moments when the budget – decent but still ‘low’ budget by Hollywood standards – forces them to get fun and inventive with their action sequences (can’t just have wall-to-wall explosions and machine-guns here), but it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve seen this script before. A ‘twist’ near the end feels about as natural as a Boeing 747, and you can easily drink every time you guess what will happen next.
Despite this, you can still switch your brain off and enjoy The Takedown – it’s not going to destroy all your brain cells, and you’ll get a chuckle out of a moment or two. But it is still trying too hard to be liked, and therefore works against itself, overshadowing points where it genuinely has something fun and interesting to do and say. All the positives are matched equally by negatives, like neutralising acids and alkalis in a high-school chemistry classroom. The Takedown is like getting black-out drunk; you’ll have fun whilst doing it, but completely forget what happened the following morning.