Sometimes, you’re in the very specific kind of mood to watch a dynamic gangster film full of comedy, action and neon lightnings.
The kind of film that is ideal to watch with some friends or alone when all you want is to disconnect from the dullness of real life from a while.
Something far from a slow indie film or cheap horror movie or tearful drama.
If you’re ever in this kind of mood, Gangsta is exactly it.
Set in Antwerp (a city in the Flanders region of Belgium), the film follows Adamo, Matteo Simoni (“Callboys”, “Marina”) and his three best friends Badia, Nora Gharib (“The Team (TV)”), Junes, Junes Lazaar (“De Bunker (TV)”, “Bergica (TV)”) and Volt, Said Boumazoughe, all inseparable since childhood and animated with the envy of becoming real gangsters like Orlando Mari, Werner Kolf (“Zenith (TV)”, “Wolf”), a local drug lord with pockets full of money, power and women.
After (badly) running a job for him, they end up stealing a shipment of cocaine and trigger a drug war between them, Orlando and a Columbian cartel.
There is never a dull moment in Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah’s (the rumoured directors for Bad Boys For Life and Beverly Hills Cop 4) film (their third collaboration): from its first scene to the last, the film is always at full speed.
Each character is introduced in a fast-paced, colorful way, even with a few flashbacks that never slow the story down. The editing is quick and witty, with some texts and drawings often popping up on screen in vibrant and exciting ways.
This feature fits very well with the general tone, full of neon-lights, techno soundtrack and video game references.
Because the film stays on its quick pace all throughout, it is entirely up to the plot to escalate the stakes: while the first hour and half feels like you’re high on the drug they’re selling, the last act – filled with blood and murders – is the sobering aftermath that makes you wish you never had tried the product in the first place.
Gangsta is not the type of film that will challenge how you think about life or carry any deeper meaning than what is on the surface level. Despite this, it still succeeds in being slightly more than just a fast-paced comedy: there are some real character moments that manage to fit some empathy and seriousness in all the shenanigans surrounding it.
You especially get a good sense of how the characters all grew up together in the same city and view one another as a big family full of estranged siblings and complicated relationships.
This subject could have been given a greater focus, however, just like the other “deeper” moments as well as the characters of Junes and Volt, who are not given much to do besides being (great) comic reliefs.
All in all, Gangsta is great for what it is. Don’t expect more, but definitely don’t expect less either: this is a fun time guaranteed and great work from everyone involved in it.