Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Antigang, aka The Sweeney Paris (2015)

2015 French cop thriller Antigang is known in the UK by the rather unwieldy title of The Sweeney Paris. This is because Antigang is a remake of Nick Love's 2012 film The Sweeney which was itself a remake of the classic 1970s TV series of the same name starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman. 

So what we have here is a remake of a remake. 

However whilst Love's film was a predictable disappointment which was unable to step out of the shadows of the original series, director Benjamin Rocher's remake prospers and thrives simply because its Gallic setting means it is utterly removed from Thaw and Waterman's Regan and Carter, whose boots Love's stars Ray Winstone and Ben Drew failed to fill. Here Jean Reno and Alban Lenoir don't suffer the same association and come into their own as our buddy buddy cops - Serge Buren, a grizzled veteran who plays by his own rules, and Niels Cartier, an enthusiastic and faithful Duracell bunny of a cop who refuses to give up. 

Antigang improves on Love's The Sweeney on other levels too; though it's a pretty faithful remake of that film, the script (by Fran├žois Loubeyre and Tristan Schulmann) improves the narrative by editing some subplots and red herrings. It also takes itself far less seriously in places, and manages to both bring supporting characters to the fore, whilst dropping other characters completely. Overall this makes for a tighter, sharper and more cohesive film experience, even if some of the 2012 original's spectacle is lost (such as the climactic car chase) possibly due to budgetary constraints. 

Another thing I liked about this was the fact that Reno's Buren was much more likeable than Winstone's Regan. Unlike Love's creation, Buren is acutely aware of the fact that he is growing older day by day. There's a vulnerability and a doubt regarding his methods here that was totally missing from Winstone's swaggering, bully-boy interpretation of Jack Regan. Also, the romance storyline doesn't feel as sickening as it did in Love's film, despite the age difference actually being greater here (Reno and his co-star Caterina Murino had an almost thirty year age difference, whereas Winstone and Hayley Atwell had 25 years between them) Maybe it's because Reno isn't so much of a fat bastard? Or perhaps it's just because it's done far more subtly. 

Don't get me wrong, Antigang isn't anything other than a very dumb and generic action orientated cop thriller, but therein lies its triumph - because, unlike Love's film, it doesn't have that same baggage from a television series that is considered something of a landmark here in the UK and, if they'd have just called it Antigang here too, it would have had even less of an identifiable link.

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