Braquo Season 2
Hot on the heels of the release of season one of Braquo, comes season two. With French film glitterati Marchal and Schoendorffer sent back to the multiplex, the writing reins are passed on to Abdel Raouf Dafri, the man behind A Prophet and Mesrine, and Eric Valette (Malefique, One Missed Call) and Phillipe Haim (Secrets of the State) are bussed in to direct. Beginning with the immense fuck-up that was the conclusion of season one, soon Eddy Caplan and his squad of coke fiend Theo, gambler Walter and greasy haired Roxanne are looking at a long spell in the slammer and disgrace. Eddy takes the blame for the murders, corruption and general carnage that was season one and is sent off to a very well appointed jail cell whilst Theo is fired, and Walter and Roxanne are demoted to petrol pump and traffic duties.
Luckily, for them if not the 10 victims in suburbia, lots of gold is stolen and Caplan is offered a shot of redemption to infiltrate the gang responsible. Escaping from jail with a gang member in tow, Eddy is soon relying on his disgraced friends to fulfil his mission and keep from being lost in gang wars, political chicanery and personal betrayal. Where credulity was stretched well past breaking point in season one, season two is much sounder in its development bar some final twists which I won't spoil now. The writing is less concerned with the honour of the disgraced cops and their esprit de corps, and much more interested in political elements and personal explorations. The gang Eddy infiltrates allows for some moralising around France's colonial past, the crime underworld is painted with much greater interest in its diversity (Armenians, Jewish and Arab factions), and there is some much needed airing of the cops' personal dynamics as their worlds fall apart - all of these elements reflect a richer and deeper approach to the drama.
For fans of season one, there's development of that story and the relationship with Vogel and his corrupt prosecutor is taken further, I guess as the potential focus for season 3. Several key characters are "compromised to a permanent end", to quote Obama, and this welcome lack of predictability means that formula never overwhelms and the grittiness is better grounded.Yet what I felt was the best thing about season two was that it existed in a moral universe that I recognised. The nonsensical ins and outs of the first season, all justified by the code of honour of Caplan's group, are succeeded by some deeper themes that explore relative loyalties - mother and son, country and citizen etc. With a better grasp of both reality and character, Braquo's second season is a significant improvement on its entertaining predecessor.
Released on two BD discs, coded for region B, each disc contains four episodes and there are no extras. The episodes are presented in high definition with lossless stereo as the single sound option and English subtitles burnt in.The quality is similar to season one with probably a little more detail obvious to my eye, and grain very obvious in darker sequences. The appearance seems quite natural overall with no obvious tinkering with edges, and this is a good treatment. The lossless stereo track is robust and clear, although it's worth noting that the French release uses master audio rather than LPCM.
A good example of a second season which improves on the first and a solid release from Arrow.