ACAB – All Cops Are Bastards (2012)
“You can only count on your brothers!”
Director: Stefano Sollima
Cast: Pierfrancesco Favino, Filippo Nigro, Marco Giallini
Synopsis: A look at the controversial riot cops unit, told through the stories of three veteran cops and a young recruit.
A gritty Italian study of the pressures under which Italian riot police are forced to operate, A.C.A.B. has little new to add to a rather tired genre, but it at least brings a dark style and ultimately sympathetic viewpoint to behaviour from the cops which is sometimes little better than those of their opponents on the streets. We learn of their lives through the eyes of street-wise rookie Adriano (Domenico Diele) who tries to keep his impoverished home life and police work strictly compartmentalised. The fact that he’s police doesn’t mean he isn’t subjected to the same trials as other working class youths: his father is long gone, and his mother is threatened with eviction. She’s been allocated a new apartment, but it’s occupied by squatters protected by a system which is prepared to see her put on the streets in order to protect their rights.
The seasoned vets initially come across as an uncouth lot who use their positions to vent their spleen on those unlucky enough to cross their path. But, as we get to know them better, we learn of the unfair treatment they suffer at the hands of ambitious politicians and of the dangers they face on the streets each day. It’s no wonder that a kind of siege mentality develops amongst the group and that they look upon one another as brothers. Then, when their leader is stabbed in the leg by a rioter, the cops decide to exact their own brand of revenge, and the line between right and wrong grows increasingly blurred.
ACAB is an ok movie that holds your attention while you’re watching, but which proves to be almost instantly forgettable. It isn’t helped by familiar situations, but at least scores points by bothering to try and link the dangers faced by the unit with the economic climate and political structure of the country. The performances are good, with Pierfrancesco Favino (World War Z, Rush) in particular standing out as the brutal but just Cobra.
(Reviewed 25th October 2014)