It might be chillier than Heat, but The Crew is a lean and slickly-constructed heist thriller content to be what it is and nothing more.
I’m increasingly of the opinion that more films should have the confidence to get in and out in a mere 81 minutes – especially a film like The Crew, a generic French heist thriller that debuted on Netflix today. It has been out under the title Braqueurs since 2015, but I won’t tell if you don’t. Besides, it has a fancy-pants English-language dub now, so it’s basically brand new.
You can take the word “generic” as an insult if you like, but you probably shouldn’t. While The Crew won’t do much for anyone expecting a revolutionary cinematic experience, anyone who tunes into a film about Parisian robbers expecting such a thing clearly hasn’t figured out how genre filmmaking works. Those with more realistic expectations will find The Crew to be slick, pacey and refreshingly lean; a cover of a classic hit that nonetheless belts out the familiar lyrics in the right key and with plenty of enthusiasm.
Sami Bouajila leads the titular crew as Yanis, a grizzled wrong’un who can only get hard (his words) by sticking up armoured cars and investing their contents in his businesses. His overeager little brother is on the staff and makes the schoolboy error of selling one of the guns used in the latest robbery to a drug dealer. The dealer gets nabbed and fingered for the robbery, so his boss enlists Yanis and company to fleece rival drug dealers on his behalf. What you see is what you get.
It might be chillier than Heat, but you’ll struggle to find a similar film that isn’t. What counts is that the thing’s a virtually airtight exercise in efficiency. The good guys are bad but the bad guys are worse. The plot gets chewed through with nary a crumb to spare, and it even manages to hit some credible emotion beats. The action is well-constructed, with an eye for clarity and a good sense of escalating tension. And then, after a low-key climax, it’s over. As it should be.
There’s an unreasonable expectation among budding cinephiles that films should tread new ground; that their artistic worth is determined by what they do that’s new and different. Forget all that. The Crew doesn’t care about anything beyond keeping you entertained for a while. Let it.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.