Modernist, quiet house nestled in the trees. A man is doing his morning run on a treadmill as the sun shines through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
This man is Mehdi (Sami Buajila), and we immediately understood him as a systematic and independent professional.
As we continue to see Mehdi, he controls the drone with goggles and joysticks. And silently observes a group of armed thugs on the system at the mine tunnel entrance. And as soon as we met the heirs.
It became clear how serious they were. Because they organized a heavily armed surgical attack on the criminals. Who had stolen a lot of gold bullion from the mines.
This professionalism contrasts with little Liana (Tracy Gotoas) and her gang. Which also include Shines’ (Sofia Lesafre) friends and fast-talking Momo (Sam Khalidi). Their blackmail robs hotel rooms of unsuspecting people who call their fake escort service.
But Liana and Shines rob the wrong room. When they take off with a bag of a narcotic ass full of cocaine. Saber (Salim Kechiouche), a ruthless merchant thirsty for expansion, kidnaps Shainez in a drama to get his product back.
This will require all of his precision skills as a thief and more violence. Than he wants to keep Mehdi Shining free, and to do that. He will slyly enlist the help of a new ally, hurry Liana thought. And it could have worked had Mehdi, not the young lady’s uncle.
Ganglands tells its story of villains fighting villains in six-hour episodes. All directed by Julien Leclerc, who co-developed the series with Hamid Hliua.
And in France, Ganglands is known as Braqueuers: La Serie. Because it is an extension of the small-screen underworld. That Leclercq first explored in the 2015 film Braqueuers.
Which also starred Bouajila. (Braqueuers owe a considerable debt to Michael Mann’s classic Heat; it’s available on Netflix under the title Americanized The Crew).
Mehdi and the clash between his isolated world of high-profile thieves:
The dirty business of family members at risk of becoming unscrupulous drug dealers are elements in the ganglands. With the highest rank. But there’s a bigger story about mixing up the father fur of his criminal family in a hasty expansion effort.
Tying his cousin, veteran money launderer Sofia (Nabiha Akari). To the role of an unintentional mediator. With more gunfights and ultimatums looming, it’s now clear that survival is no longer a guarantee. Everyone in the ganglands has something to lose, and everyone plays to the rescue.
Creating the competing realities of Med and Liana, one clinically ruthless and made for the big game. The other engrossing in the chair, fatalistic ruthlessness. It is the best Ganglands has ever done about it. And especially with the first episode each falling into a ball. Leading to individual operators joining into a circle of violence.
In later episodes, when Mehdi and Liana prepare to team up – after he catches the thorn, he nods, gesturing; “Five men out, with guns” attractive to see how these two thieves.
A professional, a novice with natural talent, work together as a team. They are bad people, of course, but they are all in this dark, turbulent universe. And they were a much better sight than the dealers and thugs they faced trying to save the Shines.
The spelling here can be a bit predictable, and some characters are widely represented at the start.
Sable, for example, for all its potential faux pas, can be an annoying start. But Buajila is great as the constant and thoughtful Mehdi. A man who understands violence and how best to use it. And Liana from Med and Gotoas will be a pair of dynamite to pursue this brilliant world criminal adventure.
Ganglands is pretty rough in portraying its players’ lack of moral compassion in the criminal underworld. And overcoming the predictable trend with some exciting headline shows.