Braquo: Cops As Rock Stars

What sets Braquo apart from the swathes of other cop dramas that hog our TV screens? Well it's French, it's gritty and it's unbelievably violent. If that hasn't got you convinced though... it's a little bit like The Wire too.
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What sets Braquo apart from the swathes of other cop dramas that hog our TV screens? Well it's French, it's gritty and it's unbelievably violent. If that hasn't got you convinced though... it's a little bit like The Wire too.

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Fuck da police. Seriously, every time you sit down and idly flick on the TV, there they are. Climbing inside the minds of serial killers, clashing with pen- pushing top brass, and facing down personal demons like they’ve accidentally turned up to work in hell. There’s too bloody many of them, and if CSI or Law and Order manage to wring out yet another link in the franchise, let them be warned they may face some real life violence.

So, why in God’s name should you spend your downtime watching Braquo, the latest cop drama to reach our screens?

Well, firstly, it’s European. French, to be exact. Yes, we’ve got some fantastic police- based drama of our own (recently, The Shadow Line springs to mind), but before suggesting that believing something is good merely because it has an exotic touch of euro- flair is what got Wigan Athletic where they are today, you have to admit that Europe does at least have form on this one.

Denmark has given us the excellent Forbrydelsen, a show so good that it caused mass- hysteria among Guardian readers and led the US to remake it almost instantly as The Killing. A second series starts on BBC4 shortly, so buy the box set now and catch up.

Italy has contributed Romanzo Criminale, a totally brilliant serialized marriage of Goodfellas and The Sopranos, currently filling Sky Arts with perms, tight trousers and drug- related death to rave reviews.

Another reason why Braquo deserves your time is because it has a few important things in common with everybody’sfavouriteshoweverintheworld TM The Wire.

Then there’s France, who have already given us Engrenages (BBC3’s Spiral over here), possibly the pick of the European imports with plots so strong, violent and developed that they should be investigated for steroid use. Only that wasn’t enough for our friends across the channel. Oh no. They’ve gone and given us Braquo.

Another reason why Braquo deserves your time is because it has a few important things in common with everybody’sfavouriteshoweverintheworld TM The Wire. Yes, there are the obvious ones- it’s exposure of Paris’ seedy underbelly will undoubtedly see it labeled ‘gritty’, it’s pretty difficult to tell who the good guys are most of the time, and there’s plenty of creative (and subtitled) swearing. A good example? “I would have liked to see a glimmer of regret in your eyes, but all I see is shit.” Quite.

But the comparison that carries most weight and makes Braquo worth your time is that Oliver Marchal, who wrote and directed the series, was once, like The Wire’s co- creator Ed Burns, a copper himself.

So, while other shows may leave you thinking ‘surely that luxury sports car isn’t standard police issue’, with Braquo, you know that the dank warehouse they work in and the shitty bar they drink in is bang on the money. And yes, that money has been illegally signed out of evidence, following a botched and bloody sting operation of course.

Speaking of which, it’s worth pointing out that Braquo may not be suitable for your gran. Unless she’s massively violent, in which case, she’ll appreciate the opening scene of the series, where, before you know what’s going on, a cop has clicked open his ballpoint and rammed it into the eye of a rape suspect, before asking ‘how do you like that?’

That’s not to mention the ensuing accusations of shoving a steel ruler up his bum, but we don’t want to put you off. In short, Braquo is so terrifyingly thrilling in it’s flashes of violence that you’ll come away feeling almost guilty. Good news then, that the second series (currently in production) is being helmed by Jacques Audiard, who gave us some of the most squirm- inducing violence of recent years in A Prophet.

And not that glamourising violence is cool (much), but it needs to be said that these guys make it look good. Admittedly, the bad hair and beards sported by most of the detectives makes them look like the kind of men whose corned beef aroma would overpower you on the bus, but the youngest chap on the team is different.

Heavily tattooed, he rolls out of a bed where a beautiful naked woman lies, before hovering up a line of coke, grabbing his jackets, and heading off to work to nail some crooks. This is cops as rock stars, and it’s a lot of fun.

This kind of thing does lead to Braquo’s only obvious down- side- it can get a bit too macho from time to time. No, that’s not always a bad thing, but when a cop being questioned by internal affairs asks his interrogator if locking up colleagues ‘makes you screw your wife better?’, only to be answered ‘No. I screw your wife better’, you’re getting too close to giggling for comfort.

Still, it’s a small point. What you need to take away is this: Braquo is foreign, violent, cool and tough as a three day old baguette. Consume now.

Catch Braquo at 10pm Sunday on FX

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