The atmosphere of gangster films has always resonated with darkness, violence and drugs, and more often than not involved bank robberies. In conjunction with a number of excellent directors, it is no wonder that the history of this genre is rich with outstanding films, and Above the Law (French: Tueurs) is one of those explosive, grab-you-by-the-throat works. The film premiered at the 74th Venice International Film Festival, in the Official Selection – Cinema nel Gardino.

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Above the Law, written and directed by Francois Troukens (with the help from writer Giordano Gederlini and co-director Jean-François Hensgens), a reformed ex-convict turned writer-director, brings a new meaning to the crime genre. Above the Law was inspired by the director’s own experiences and tragic events that occurred in Brussels, in the 1980s, involving the Brabant Killers who were blamed for a series of ferocious crimes that left 28 people dead between 1982 and 1985 – to this day, the culprits have still not been identified.

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Above the Law opens with a footage of a news report, showing a group of men shooting innocent people outside of a mall; the perpetrators have not been caught and the crime was left unsolved. 30 years later, a new crew of outlaws comes around. The gang leader who escaped from prison, Frank Valken (Olivier Gourmet: The Son, Angel at Sea, The Minister), decides that the next heist will be his last. What at first seems to be the perfect non-violent crime, will later turn into an unforeseen chaos – the robbery goes well, but the escape ends with the death of several people, including a high-profile judge.

The incident brings back the memories of the events from the 1980s. Valken is finally caught and accused of murder, which he denies. Brussels’ detectives Danny Bouvy (Bouli Lanners: Raw, Rust and Bone) and Lucie Tesla (Lubna Azabal: Incendies, Body of Lies, Coriolanus) are digging into his case – one rigs the evidence against Valken, while the other one discovers the truth behind the 1980s heist, which is now strongly connected with the new robbery. The cat-and-mouse game begins…

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Above the Law is an excellent crime thriller which should not be missed. Francois Troukens, who proved himself to be very diligent, in a skillful way combines cinema with reality. It is one of those films that will seduce you with a growing tension, then grab your full attention at the most unexpected moments. What really distinguishes this production from other, similar works are the genre consciousness and the script, which is really well-polished. There is no glorification of the characters or of the crime; instead, the story is depicted with brutal honesty and realism. The actors are great in their roles; Lubna and Olivier dominated almost every frame of the production and with every scene, they both proved how great and universal actors they are.

Above the Law is a thrilling picture of the world of organized crime and its ‘inhabitants’ where, sooner or later, one will be held accountable for their crimes; it sounds cliche, but it nonetheless fits this film very well. From superb acting, to amazing original music by Clemente and spotless cinematography by Jean-François Hensgens, who already has over 60 credits under his belt, Above the Law is a polished diamond of the crime genre. 

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Written by Maggie Gogler

Edited by Sanja Struna

All photos @  Versus Production

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