fri 14/06/2024

Blood Coast, Netflix review - mayhem in Marseille | reviews, news & interviews

Blood Coast, Netflix review - mayhem in Marseille

Blood Coast, Netflix review - mayhem in Marseille

Captain Benamar and his team battle ultra-violent drug cartels

The Crazies, from left: Arno (Olivier Barthelemy), Tatoo (Idir Azougli), Benamar (Tewfik Jallab), Audrey (Lani Sogoyou), Alice (Jeanne Goursaud)

The original title of this French crime drama was Pax Massilia, a reference to the classical roots of its setting in what is now known as Marseille. Dating back to the 6th Century BC, it’s supposedly the oldest city in France. An atmospheric mix of architectural styles, dramatic views, a Mediterranean climate and multiple ethnicities, it makes the perfect stage for this fast-paced and sometimes horrifically violent thriller.

It’s directed by Olivier Marchal, an ex-cop whose CV includes Braquo and 36 Quai des Orfèvres. And while the eternal struggle between police and thieves is hardly the most original theme on TV, Blood Coast manages to balance a knotty narrative and intense action scenes with some skilful character development. You need to settle in for all six episodes to allow the subtleties and undercurrents to reveal themselves, but it’s an investment worth making.In charge of the undercover cops who are trying to keep the city’s roaring drug trade under some kind of control is Lyès Benamar (Tewfik Jallab), himself a product of a rough Marseille housing project. Benamar is the archetypal maverick who walks a thin tightrope between playing rough and going rogue, but despite provoking his boss, Commissionaire Fabiani (Florence Thomassin), to apoplexy on an almost daily basis, he gets results. For instance, he extracts information from a lowly drug mule by smashing his head through a car window, then hanging him out of the door of the speeding vehicle.

However, this sort of thing has come to the attention of the sleek and smarmy internal affairs investigator Victor Miranda (Diouc Koma). He’s on Benamar’s case, constantly sneaking around and trying to persuade Benamar’s team to give him evidence of his off-piste policing tactics. But this only has the effect of binding Benamar’s crew closer together. They call themselves “the Crazies”, and revel in their bull-in-a-china-shop approach to their work.

We get an outsider’s view of the team’s operations when they’re joined by Captain Alice Vidal (Jeanne Goursaud), who arrives on the train from Paris on a mission whose purpose remains opaque. However, it transpires that she’s the daughter of another cop, Pierre Vidal. He was killed when an armed gang appeared at the funeral of the son of ruthless mobster Franck Murillo (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and whisked Murillo away and into hiding. Murillo’s charred corpse was supposedly found in Venezuela, but it doesn’t take Alice long to confirm that, as she suspected, he’s still alive.

It’s Murillo’s battle to take over the Marseille drugs trade from the rival operation run by Ali Saïdi (Samir Boitard, familiar from Parisian police drama Spiral, pictured above with Tewfik Jallab ) that provides the spine of the story, and a brutal and bloody saga it is too. Murillo has a particularly vile henchman known as The Indian (Moussa Maasteri, pictured right), whose cold-blooded brutality knows no bounds, and ghastly scenes of torture and murder start to become unpleasantly commonplace.

However, the story is given some heart and soul by the back story of Benamar and Saïdi, boyhood friends from the ‘hood whose careers veered off in opposite directions. Benamar isn't averse to using money captured from criminals to help out the local boys' football team. We also get some insights into the personal trials and tribulations of Benamar’s team, Tatoo (Idir Azougli), Arno (Olivier Barthelemy) and Audrey (Lani Sogoyou). Having watched this, you probably wouldn’t want to become a cop.

Having watched this, you probably wouldn’t want to become a cop

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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