films seen
4
average score
3.37*
nationality
status
Alive and kicking
more info

Solid pieces

Gangsta

Patser
2018 / 125m - Belgium
Crime, Comedy
3.5*/5.0*
Gangsta poster

Fun and dynamic gangster comedy. It's a bit of a departure from El Arbi and Fallah's earlier films, which took a more serious approach to the crime/gangster genre. For Gangsta, they threw out the grit and drama and replaced it with goofy characters, funny dialogues and some over-the-top action.

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In that sense Gangsta would prove to be a perfect stepping stone for Bad Boys 3. It's one of those films that is slick and accessible enough to have plenty of international appeal, but is also still distinctive and different enough to highlight the skills of its directors. And this duo really went for it.

While the film is very eager to reference American influences, it reminded me more of the British gangster cinema of Ritchie. Gangsta is a film with lots of visual flair, characters that try their hardest to be as cool as possible but don't quite get there and a banging, well integrated soundtrack. Just a tad too long maybe, but otherwise a very slick and entertaining film.

Black

2015 / 95m - Belgium
Crime, Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Black poster

Image

2014 / 87m - Belgium
Thriller
3.5*/5.0*
Image poster

EL Arbi and Fallah's first. These two young talents made their dream a reality when they moved to Hollywood to shoot the latest Bad Boys sequel, but they started out with considerably fewer means to their disposal. With Image, they showcased what they could do on a budget, and I will say the result is pretty impressive.

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The plot revolves around a young girl working in a newsroom. She has found a perfect subject for a documentary in a Moroccan man who agrees to guide her through the quarters of Molenbeek. She gets pressured from above to complete her documentary as quickly as possible, but she believes her doc can bring much-needed nuance to a heavily polarized story.

The performances are strong, the thorny subject is handled with the proper care, and the dramatization of the plot is successful. The pacing and runtime are pretty much perfect, too. Image isn't a whiny plea for respect, nor a simple excuse, nor a dry political pamphlet, instead it's a well-made film that doesn't sugarcoat its message. A very nice feature film debut.

The inoffensive

Bad Boys for Life

2020 / 124m - USA
Action, Comedy
3.0*/5.0*
Bad Boys for Life poster

El Arbi and Fallah made it big. The gap between directing local crime films and a big Hollywood action blockbuster is considerable, but they handled themselves remarkably well. While not as extravagant or lively as Bay's second film, Bad Boys for Life is a decent continuation of an entertaining franchise.

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What's lacking is a personal signature, but I guess that's not too surprising considering this is their first big budget feature. This felt like a pretty basic action/comedy, with some expensive chase sequences, a little playful banter between the leads and a flashy set piece where the finale takes place. Without anything to really call their own though, it's hard not to compare this to Bay's superior second film.

Smith and Lawrence are solid, though they're basically just revisiting their earlier performances (with some ages jokes thrown in for good measure). The cinematography is decent, the soundtrack fitting and the action sequences adequate, but apart from the finale there isn't really a scene that is going to stick. A decent and entertaining sequel, but nothing more.