Braquo: Season 4 (2016)
10th December 2016
After their colleague Max was unfairly accused of criminal misconduct and committed suicide, a squad of Paris police officers have crossed the "yellow line" to do whatever is necessary, even breaking the law, to clear Rossi's name. Now Eddie Caplanm, Walter Morlighem, Theo Wachevski and Roxane Delgado exist on the very edge of the law. But, by crossing that yellow line, they have fallen under the close scrutiny of the police internal affairs bureau and Roland Vogel - a sworn enemy of Caplan - who, in season three, went rogue, in his extreme attempts to bring down Caplan.
In this forth, and final, season, Vogel is in prison (not that he lasts long after Caplan engineers his murder via a box of matches and a can of lighter fluid) and Caplan and his team are confronted by the fierce and ruthless "Baba" Aroudji whose only son was killed by Morlighem during a police raid.
Once more, the rogue cops are once more prepared to cross the line and do anything to get rid of the big shot and take on the Turkish mafia - even if they are now being closely watched by the increasingly suspicious Police Authorities, and new head of the disciplinary inspection force Henry Brabant, who is attempting to get to the bottom of group's illegal activities and expose them once and for all.
Braquo is available on both Blu-ray and DVD, but we're reviewing the Blu-ray here. Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and with the AVC codec, it looks a bit of a stunner too - and it's made all the more surprising by the fact it's a television series and not some sort of big budget blockbuster.
Blacks (of which there are plenty) are superb throughout. Deep and solid, and with good contrast levels too, given the vast number of dark interior scenes it's great to find a disc which excels in the picture department. There are no signs of artifacting or outlining and the brighter exterior, or artificially lit, scenes such as hotel lobbies or restaurants are faithfully reproduced with sharp images, excellent flesh tones and wonderful levels of detail (I was particularly impressed with Henry Brabant's shiny forehead!).
The audio is provided via a stunning 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack which just begs to be played through your home-cinema (with enhanced mode enabled) or sound-bar setup. Do it this way and you'll enjoy Braquo at its very best. With an all-encompassing soundtrack with consistent (French) dialogue throughout, there's effects galore in the rear channels - including bullets ricocheting and spent cases flying all over the place - whilst the LFE channel is hardly ever idle. Marvellous stuff, and you'll be left fully engaged with the cracking on screen action.
The series on Blu-ray is carried over two discs. Whilst the first disc has a wonderful introduction reel for other Nordic Noir titles in the extensive Arrow Films range, once you get past those, all that remains is a simple, but grittily scored menu system. The menu system is hardly going to win awards in the design department - with Episode Selection the only options available - but at least you have the option to watch them all in one sitting.
Extras wise, unless you count the introduction reel as an extra, just like the mystery of the disappearing police evidence from the evidence store room, there's nothing to be seen here. It's a shame too as the recent "Noir" title Gomorrah came fully loaded with extras. Given that Braquo is devised by Olivier Marchal - a French actor, director, screenwriter, and a former policeman to boot - there should have been a whole case load of extras to be uncovered here. A real missed opportunity if there was ever one.
At least the programme is compelling, and totally addictive, so its content more than makes up for the lack of extras.
Whilst there's no-doubting that Braquo is a cracking series, unless you've seen the previous seasons you're going to be rather clueless as to what the heck is going on. The first episode of season four picks up from the season three finale and, without any sort of recap, you're left trawling the internet looking for season synopses. The only thing you can be sure of, with an 18 certificate, it's not going to be anything like Dixon of Dock Green or The Bill, more of a The Wire on steroids. And powerful ones at that.
Still, the many legions of fans will already be in the know and they'll be aching to dive straight in - and with the action kicking off from the moment the disc begins to spin, they're not going to be disappointed.
When Arrow Films first setup some twenty-five years ago their first range of titles were a little questionable at times. Sure, they were playing to the cult-crowd, but with some really wacky, bizarre and "video nasties" titles sent to our site for review, I started to dread what we'd receive. But, boy, have those times changed and the award winning Arrow have really evolved into a pioneer of foreign language film - both theatrical and television based.
With their Nordic Noir and Beyond label, the British have been privileged to enough to get their hands on some classic crime and drama series such as The Bridge, Borgen and The Killing, and thanks to their efforts, the demand for such titles has only increased with the original Nordic Noir label evolving to include Beyond with French titles such as Witnesses, The Disappearance and of course Braquo.
With French television starting to out do whatever comes across the Atlantic (the American's only seem to be able to do poor remakes of series these days), Braquo manages to provide a continual bombardment of action at such breakneck speed you're left wondering just where the heck they managed to find such amazing script writers. One thing is for sure though, they haven't come from Hollywood.
With class acts such as Braquo, those Scandinavian producers had better watch out - the French are coming to steal your TV crown. Highly recommended.