Also known as "36 Quai des Orfèvres," "Department 36," or just plain "36," this is a French film from 2004 starring the great Daniel Auteuil and Gérard Depardieu. The film shows a much darker side of Paris than most people are used to seeing. Criminals are very violent and do not fear the police, while the police themselves are morally questionable.
Daniel Auteuil plays Leo Vrinks, who leads his own "Strike Team." They brutalize criminals and do not follow police procedure, yet Vrinks does have a good heart and believes he is in the right. Depardieu who plays Denis Klein on the otherhand, is an opportunistic and cold hearted scoundrel who will do anything to get ahead no matter how horrible it is.
The two put in very good performances, and they are not seen as "movie cops," but real people with emotions and depth. One might even compare their rivalry to Pacino and DeNiro's in "Heat." Auteuil and Depardieu play off of each other very well during their heated confrontation that slowly boils.
While this is not an action film, there is good action to be found which shows the brutality of the bank robbers and how efficient the police are.
The film is based on writer and director Olivier Marchal's experiences as a cop, and it's amazing to know how many of the events really happened.
"36" is a very good movie that combines police procedural, thriller, and morality tale into one.
This exciting French policier tells the story of two police commanders in Paris. One, played by Daniel Auteuil, is fairly honest who is capable of brutal shortcuts. The other, played by Gerard Depardieu, combines ambition and moral corruption. Both are up for the same promotion. The need to quickly capture or kill a group of murderous robbers pits them against each other. The result is a number of dead cops, outright murder, the protective instincts of the system and a retribution that is quick, final and satisfying.
Were any two actors as unlikely to become leading men as Depardieu and Auteuil? One with a small mouth and the other with a dynamic nose. Both, however, are charismatic on the screen and are extraordinary actors. How good it was to see them together in parts they could do something with.
It has a few (very few!), brief (very brief!) cinema moments that evoke GODFATHER 1, but these are fleeting and don't typify the film as a whole. Whenever the film needs to be moved along, good old violence/murder/robbery/shoot-em-in-the-head gets the script writers out of a jam and affords them a fresh mini-start. The abrupt cutting also leads to confusion as to what actors fit in where, and whose side they're on. The plot is basically simple, and the constant string of violent events diverts our attention from the slim premise that's stretched out for over two hours. As a change of pace from the violence, we watch other cliches of gangster films: retreads of boring nude sex scenes & domestic tensions that haven't changed since Steve McQueen in BULLIT and Pacino in HEAT; these are phased in and out in a calculating way. The high point of the film is the-center-of-Paris, casket tribute to a murdered policeman where the photography team hits its zenith and, in fact, they are extraordinarily adroit throughout the film and keep scenes fresh and inventive. This is desperately needed, because the substance of the story is kept shallow. The final scene, too, relies on violence-out-of-nowhere as a quick way to close the film. Over reliance on formulas and "hook the audience" gambits leave one with the empty feeling this is an elaborate shell game, rescued by very competent cinematography.