Inspired by a news item that hit the headlines in 2012, Cédric Jimenez’s latest film (French, HHhH) tells the story of three BAC agents from the northern districts of Marseille who, for the purposes of an investigation, take an active part in the local drug trafficking. For them, it is a question of collecting a significant quantity of cannabis to obtain a pipe necessary for the organization of a descent in one of the hottest cities of the sector. Things are obviously not going to go as planned.

BAC north thus proposes to expose the impossible situation of police officers subjected to a policy of the figures and forced to compromise themselves to obtain results. From a prohibited material, cannabis resin becomes a bargaining chip, a relay between cops and thugs, while the use of public force is akin to a particular form of embezzlement. To deal with this would have required an element of finesse in the ambiguity and a certain finesse in the ambivalence.

Big flashy traveling shots

Alas, Cédric Jimenez wraps it all up in a hard-hitting filming, with big flashy tracking shots, which seeks to impress, less to be embarrassed by subtleties. If it sometimes knows how to be effective (the central scene of the descent, tense), the film too often turns into a contest of ranting and manly clashes, a register where few actors can find real leeway (only Adèle Exarchopoulos and Karim Leklou shine).

That a muscular and local color thriller (with the accent and in the streets of the Phocaean city) seeks to reconnect with the big spectacle is not the problem. On the other hand, that police officers committing such abuses are presented as scapegoats is much less successful. By its construction in two stages where the tearful drama follows the action, the film sees in its protagonists only good professionals a little daredevil burned by their hierarchy – this is where the absence of subtlety is cruelly done. feel. Dedicated to exonerate his heroes of all responsibility, BAC north thus takes the form of a rehabilitation that is not only difficult to swallow, but rather unwelcome.

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French film by Cédric Jimenez. With Gilles Lellouche, François Civil, Karim Leklou, Adèle Exarchopoulos (1 h 45).

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