The other cop movie of the weekend is the one to see

There’s another cop movie in theaters this weekend, and it’s nominated for the Oscar. Don’t let the subtitles throw you, “Les Misérables” is as broadly entertaining as it is thought-provoking.

Officer Stéphane (Damien Bonnard) couldn’t have joined the Anti-Crime Brigade on a worse day. A recent transfer to the department from another city, Stéphane is rudely introduced to the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, France, by his cynical new partners, the abusive Chris (Alexis Manenti) and the physically intimidating Gwada (Djibril Zonga). They give Stéphane the lay of the land. Gangs, brought together by race and religion, run the town.

After having some fun with Stéphane, Chris and Gwada get a call about a fight in progress. They discover members of a circus company threatening a gang leader. A melee is possible, but Chris calms things down. A lion cub has been stolen from the circus. To head off a war, they must find the animal. The time bomb is ticking.

“Les Misérables” is both a conventional cop thriller and a meaningful social drama. While it leans heavily into the action elements, especially as it concludes, the film’s commentary on economic disparities and policing hits hard. Chris represents the rough, smash-mouth approach, and the devoted Gwada follows him as his muscle. Stéphane is an idealist that tries a different approach to conflict resolution. It’s that approach that Stéphane naively thinks is new to the harsh environment in which he finds himself.

Read Jonathan’s full review online and in print in the Times-Herald: